Varisian Wanderer

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RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16. RPG Superstar 6 Season Star Voter, 7 Season Star Voter. 10,319 posts (10,382 including aliases). 3 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist. 1 alias.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

My computer's power supply died Monday night, and my backup is a samsung galaxy tablet so I can at least browse while I wait for it to get fixed.

But, it keeps saying 'Could not establish a secure connection' when I try to log in here on Paizo. And no, everyone else is posting just fine and there's nothing wrong with the server.

Am I doing something wrong, or do the boards here simply not work with Android?

posting from work! ;)


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

This is probably a calc question, but I've been out of school too long and can't figure out how to arrange the math.

Here's the set-up...I want to find out how fast the Hulk really is, and that's simply by normal jumping.

We're going to ignore the fact that he can jump into orbit. Truly. We are. Because jumping to escape velocity is more Supermanish.

No, no, I just want to know the following:

Assuming he jumps off at 45 degrees for maximum efficiency, how fast is he going if he jumps 1 mile?
If he jumps three miles? I think three miles was his 'old limit'.

The physics of it are wonky because his height going UP slows at the speed of gravity, while his speed ACROSS stays at the same speed as his initial velocity (cause we is ignoring comic book air drag).

a .22 rifle bullet usually goes about a mile. A 30/.06 bullet can hit three miles. fast is The Hulk? I just want to know... :)

If you're a bit of a math/physics whiz who can figure out the right equation, that'd be fun to see. It will also give people an idea just how fast you have to toss something to have it go a mile.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Or, the thoughts that went into my rewrite.

Note: The Rewrite itself isn't posted here.
Fighter Design and Discussion

I’m going to go through my thoughts on how I’d try to build/rebuild the fighter class for 20 levels. My goal isn’t to get a more powerful combat machine, but to build a better narrative for the fighter and ‘round him out’, bringing him up to par with the other martial classes while retaining his own distinctive flavor.

Here’s some of the issues I’ll be attempting to deal with.

1) Retaining combat ability as a par, near constant, no ‘surge’ damage, but giving some flexibility on application.

2) The fighter’s ability should be based on level and skill, not ability scores. While high stats never hurt, a fighter with average ability scores should still be a dangerous combatant, much like you don’t need a 26 Int wizard to be dangerous.

3) The fighter is the Olympian and combat genius of the fighting classes. He takes mundane combat tricks and things and turns them into truly dangerous things. He is the SMART melee combatant, even if his Int is 10.

4) The fighter is and has always been centered around his weapon of choice, and to a lesser extent his armor.

5) The fighter should have some ability to lead and inspire others, if he chooses to develop it.

6) Fighters should not have or be reliant on magic in any form. Actually, they should be the most non-magical and magically resistant of all the classes. Every other class but the fighter has access to magic or magical abilities.

7) Fighters should be able to train and self-improve outside of their level gains, in the same way casters can learn more and new spells. Since they don’t have magic, when they do train, they should get more benefit out of training then someone with magic.

8) Feats are central to how fighters are. But feats are lousy class features, so if we’re going to use feats, we have to make feats awesome, and we're probably going to need more of them.

9) Fighters who are smart and educated should be rewarded. Furthermore, any mundane person living in a world of magic who cannot use magic will be as driven to find non-magical sources of strength. Fighters should have useful mundane skills that exceed that of spellcasters, because, well, they aren’t spellcasters, who just buff.

10) Fighters should be based on the existing chassis to a large extent so changes are minimized.

With that, we start on the deconstruction of the Pathfinder Fighter.

At level 1: In my games, I presume there are things you get at you first character level that you get at no other time. This means that multi-classing actually costs you something, and your formative years are spent picking up these primary skills to shape your career.

At level 1, the fighter gets: Martial Weapons Proficiencies, light through heavy armor, shields, and tower shields as proficiencies. These are core level 1 skills, and those who take up the fighter at later levels get NONE of these, exactly as if they were prestige classing.

Saves: The fighter gets a good fort save, reflecting the fact he’s tough and in shape.
Unfortunately, this says NOTHING about the fact that superior combatants are also usually quite agile, with superb reflexes and tremendous mental focus and drive. For some reason, the ranger, who doesn’t even train to be more agile in armor, gets both a good reflex save and evasion against spells.

At levels 1,2, and every 2 levels thereafter, the fighter gets a bonus Combat feat; Unlike every other class that gets bonus feats, he has to meet the pre-reqs. Ostensibly, these 11 feats are the ‘spells’ of the fighter, but only by the biggest stretch of the imagination are they the equal of spellcaster levels. Furthermore, he has no ability to gain extra feats above and beyond, like casters get spells, nor does he have the flexibility to switch out feats with any timeliness, AND they must all be combat feats.


At level 2, he gets Bravery. This improves his save against fear by +1, and improves every 4 levels by +1.
---Much has been said about the uselessness of Bravery, how poorly it compares to a paladin’s immunity to fear, and the fact it’s worse than a good will save: the brave fighter gets intimidated more easily then the scrawny wizard.
----We’re going to use this as the basis of Mental Discipline, and turn Bravery into an engine of mental strength, discipline, perseverance. Fighters are like champion athletes, and their belief and desire to succeed will be embodied in this evenly scaling ability. The fact it maxes out at +5 is nice and convenient.

At level 3, he gets Armor Training/Mastery: I break this into two parts, because one part is move as if medium armor was lighter, an ability derided for how cheaply it is imitated; and the other is +1 To Dex limit and -1 to ACP in armor, which is derided for being a de facto Stat Requirement on a class feature.
---This is a +1 ability that improves every 4 levels, maxing out at +4 at level 15 at +4.
We’re going to use this bonus for everything to do with agility, balance and endurance…and harmonization with his armor.

At level 4, he gets Weapon Training/Mastery: A +1 th/dmg with a weapon group. This is also split in two parts, the bonus and the weapon groups. The bonus increases by +1 every 4 levels, to a maximum of +4 at 16th.
----We’re going to use this to represent hand/eye coordination and strength.

At level 7, he gets to suffer no speed penalties in Heavy Armor.
--We’re going to fold this in as a subset of the level 3, and if you already have the ability, give you a bonus feat (Endurance is appropriate).

At level 8, he gets another weapon group for Weapon Mastery, at -1 to the power of the Primary group.
---Adding another non-primary weapon group at -1 is fine. The Primary weapon group should indeed be primary.

At level 12, he gets a 3rd weapon group at -2.
--The shrinking bonus is inappropriate. We’ll be changing this to ‘another secondary weapon group’ and keeping the bonus at -1.

At level 16, he gets a 4th weapon group at -3.

At level 19, he gets his first capstone, +5 DR whenever using armor or a shield.
---Huh. Let’s ignore the fact that +5 is where his armor training should be at, and focus on the fact that this DR stacks with no other DR…adamantine armor, armor spec, class abilities. Furthermore, he had to wait 19 levels to get it, which completely breaks the even scaling paradigm that's core to the Fighter.

At level 20, he gets awesome with one weapon, can’t be disarmed with it, and the crit number jumps by 1. Given that this is the scaling capstone of weapon mastery, this should apply to the whole group, not just one weapon, so we’ve broken the mold of the class for a capstone that arguably should be part of the weapon focus chain.

Feat retraining: Every 4 levels?!?
----Riiiight. Every level you can change one, at a minimum.

Notice something? Yeah. At levels 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18, the fighter doesn’t get anything. (remember, bonus feats are = to spellcasting, and shall be treated as separate class abilities!!!). Arguably, this could be EVERY LEVEL except 3,4,5 and 7, and the 2 capstones.

Trying to stick a paltry scaling bonus from a low level effect in there is an insult. Rage Powers, smiting, Favored Enemy and Terrain bonuses, all scale by level, each little +1 isn’t a whole Class Feature.

Furthermore, Armor Mastery 1 and 2 are woefully underpowered; the additional weapon groups are horrible, and the level 19 capstone, is, well, yeah.

Other Points:
FC: Fighters get an alternate FC ability, +2 to certain combat maneuver defenses based on Race.
----Yeah, no. We want vanilla, and choice. We’ll just make the human ‘pick your own’ the standard.

Training: The ability to ‘buy’ more hit points is awesome. If Fighters are the training and disciplined class, this should work better for them than it does for other classes.

Themes I’m going to use

Archetypes: I believe Fighter archetypes, like most prestige classes, are largely unnecessary. This is particularly true in the case of the fighter, where archetypes become all about wielding a certain weapon, which is basically a modified weapon focus style feat chain. So, if I stub the toes of archetypes, it’s totally deliberate.

Feats: The Fighter is the Master of Feats, the Lord of Feats, and the Sage of Feats.
Master of Feats means basically that the fighter gets more feats than anyone. I am DEFINITELY going to step on the toes of rangers here. I really can’t believe that rangers get a fighting school, and fighters do not.
Lord of Feats means that Fighters get more out of feats than any other class. Feats are like spells to fighters…for fighters, all feats should scale. A normal person takes a feat, gets a benefit – the fighter takes a feat and relentlessly improves it as he levels. Feats are full blown class features to the Lord of Feats, and every one is useful.
Sage of Feats mean that the fighter learns feats more easily then anyone else. Fighters will ignore all pre-reqs for combat feats except BAB, and if it's a ranger Combat School feat, qualify at the same time as rangers do (who do you think is teaching rangers those feats?). It also means there will be much feat consolidation for fighters.

No Magic: Not having magical abilities is going to be intrinsic to the class, to the point where innately magical races are actually at somewhat of a disadvantage.

Schools: All Fighters should have Schools. If they are self-taught, then they are effectively starting a school. This ties Fighters into traditions, the development of Master and Student relationships in both directions. Picking a School will drive many class abilities. It will be the core of influencing the narrative.

Training: The fighter more than any other class is presumed to be undergoing continual self-improvement. Barbs rage, rangers stalk and cast, paladins pray and smite, and fighters engage in endless hours of training. The other classes can train, but training is what fighters DO.
This also opens up the avenue that Fighters are best at training others. While casters make better toys, Fighters make better people! Training will be how the fighter expands his versatility in ways other classes cannot, or better than other classes can.

Self-improvement: The fighter may start off worse than some classes, but will continually self-improve over time to rival or even surpass them. If you don’t have magic, you have no CHOICE but to do this.
This theme is intended to reflect the increasing power and utility of higher level magic spells, and the increase in caster levels.

Little defined by stats: I want the class to be skill and choice based, NOT reliant on multiple abilities. The idea is to minimize the amount of Stats a fighter needs to function effectively. Race should rarely be a factor. The class should stand on its own.

Choose your own fighter: You should be able to assemble the fighter you want from the pieces available. Archetypes that reserve specific powers to themselves should be unnecessary…make feats. Likewise, PrC alternate fighters should be unneeded…make a feat tree!

ANd now we are open to discussion.

What do you feel should be added to the above?

What do you disagree with, and why?

Keep in mind a central premise...the fighter should stand well ON HIS OWN. Being awesome because the casters can throw spells on you is not awesome at all.

I'd like to tweak the build some more, but I'd like to see some feedback before I do, just in case.

Keep in mind I also had to do a Feat re-write for this. I empathisize with Kirthfinder...rewriting feats is a big task!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I have to admit, I like the changes.

Here's a run down of some key stuff.

1) You don't gain fixed stuff per level, you get Paragon points that accumulate. Best of all, you can change your Paragon allocation whenever you want. So, if you want to be fast and hunt gold, you can be set up that way. Want high defense and life? Do it. Want damage? Find the combo of crit chance or Crit damage that works for you.

2) YOu can now switch skills on the fly and in the field. THIS. IS. AWESOME. After being stuck on one configuration just to keep my Nephalem Valor at max, I can now swap out for boss fights, routine hunting, AoE damage...whatever I need. Heck, I can swap in Web Shot Rapid Fire when I see a Treasure Goblin!

3) Loot is tailored to match your character. Want good Int items? Hunt with your mage or witch docter. I have a 106 mix I got by leveling a Demon Hunter to 92, and the other 5 classes up to 60+. I was level 98 when I logged in after the patch.

4) You level faster. All my xp on all character got me to 98. In one run through of the game, I gained 8 more levels, when it was taking me 2-3 days to level at 90+. So I'm making a lot more xp. Of course, now the end goal is 800. I can only guess that if this system was around when I started I'd be 700+ right now.

5) Paragon points apply to even low level characters. So you can give your low level toons bonus stats far beyond their level to help them level up easier.

6) Cursed Shrines: Running across these is a chance for xp. Your job is to kill waves of spawns, each wave in under 30 seconds. I imagine on normal difficulty this would be a hoot, but I'm playing Torment level, and I could never quite finish the third wave.

7) Cursed Chests: Your job is to kill 100 enemies in less then a minute. Man, I couldn't even do that, killing shadow crawlers on hell level, or frikking bats. Swapped out my config and still couldn't do it.

8) Azmodan gets a lot more helpers. The Siegebreaker gets 4 Hellbearers coughing up dudes to help him out.

9) Elites have a LOT more powers to pick from to use on you at range. Before, they basically could desecrate you with fire, vortex you in close, drop mortar fire on you, lock you in place or wall you up. Now, they can call lightning on you, erect plague under you, send acid flows your way, send snowballs chasing you, and more. Their attacks do a bit less damage then before to make up for the sheer variety they can come at you with, but yeah, one spawn of elites can have like 5 different ways to damage you at range.
Oh, and the freeze bursts? Do damage now.

10) Don't stand in front of the flames breather devices in Mount Arreat now. Just saying.

11) Gold elites frequently will have mismatching cohorts. I ran into three combos of succubi helping out gold Hell Tremblers, which is a bit of a surprise on Act 3. You're going to get all sorts of combinations.

12) I ran into a LOT more elite spawns parked next to one another. Dodging the sheer variety of attacks coming at you from all those special powers can be...interesting.

13) The Loot! Base loot starts at +200 of your prime stat, or thereabouts. Just about everything you have will be within 10% of that number. Armor, rings, etc. Then Vitality is the next most common.
What this means is you're going to find loot with a LOT of Vit backing up the special powers.
LEGENDARIES ARE AWESOME. I was using a +117 +AS +Crit D + Crit% pair of gloves, and I swapped them out for a +323 Dex +500 Vit thing called St. Andrew's Gage. And I ran into another Legendary Glove with +323 Dex, +8 Crit and +25 Crit Damage.
New Legendaries don't key off old ones. I am wearing 2 Natalya's Reflection Rings at the moment. 1 is old, +90 Dex, +9 AS, +Crit %. The second one is +236 Dex, +6 AS, +Crit %. The Attack Speed stacked. I'm now hoping for the helm to drop, so I can get two sets of +7% to Crit Chance going!

14) The Skeleton King dropped a Legend for me, a belt which is coming in major useful as it blinds things for 2 seconds in a large area. I'll have to kill him again to see if he drops a rare again. I got a bow with a +400 Dex mod from the Butcher (Windcluck, it shoots chickens!), but it's not as good as my Manticore yet.
I got nothing off Belial or Azmodan or any other boss.
Diablo dropped a rare...the upgraded Dead Man's Legacy. Yeah, I went from +180ish Dex and Vit to +323 Dex and Vit.

15) There's much less gold getting dropped. I think I earned maybe 4 million playing through the whole game, picking up everything, popping everything.
Bodies rarely give up stuff compared to before.
Occasionally, barrels and bodies pop up a whole stream of gold, which is nice.
Gold is in smaller amounts.

16) Everything that drops is usable.
"Normal" stuff, white, you salvage for Common Debris, which is used in crafting. So even the trash loot is useful. I've got about 500 built up now.
Blue items get you exquisite Essence. But since magic items drop so much less, suddenly the price of the stuff on the auction house went up by 4x.
Gold items get you iridescent tears.
Essence, tears and debris also drop as loot. Monsters drop maybe a tenth of the loot they did before. The fact its all usable loot means that is FINE with me.
Gems added Diamonds, which grant res all, or a % damage bonus against elites. You no longer need books to craft gems, and the cost of crafting them is MUCH less. On the flip side, it costs a lot more to take them in and out of items.
Dying costs you much less gold, and you have a choice of coming back at your body, nearest spawn point, or back in town.

17) If you are a pack rat and have bunches of old stuff, salvage it, don't sell it. All the old stuff was devalued down to next to nothing if you sell to a merchant. At least get some essence or a tear out of it.

18) I went through on Torment 2 for half the first act. Ugh. This was like Monster Power 6 or harder, combined with the new stuff for elites was a total pain. I dialed it back down to normal Torment, which is about equal to MP 5, which I normally hunted at, and I did okay.
I started out losing 270 Dex and taking the damage hit for it, got 98 of it back with Paragon, and some crit chance and attack speed.
My DPR was about 157k, and I had 42k Life.
At the end of the play through, my DPR is now 181k, 188k if I want to go for pure damage and lose 20k hp, and my health is 80k. I can now endure so much more stuff it isn't funny. All 5 Rogues now have 300 Dex Tools, 2x 200 Dex rings, and 250+ Dex amulets, and 950+ weapons with 300+ Dex mods.
If I get just a couple more legendaries, especially boots, helm, or upgraded Natalya's cloak, I can very easily see myself breaking 200k+ damage and 100k health. Woot!

19) The Templar is my preferred henchie for my DH. He got a major damage boost (he's doing over 35k now, with a non-awesome weapon). His HP are over 80k, his healing is better.

20) Play on the Demon Hunter:
You regen hatred more slowly, which means Rapid Fire eats it up MUCH faster. I used to be able to take down a gold with one long fusillade of rocket fire...I'll run out of Hatred now, first. Same with the Boss fights in Acts 3 and 4...Rakanoth took me two full pools of Hate to bring down. And it's not observer error...I just didn't get Hatred back as fast.
More stuff with higher dex means your pets and sentries do more damage, since they don't crit. Interesting trade off.
Shadow Power's 'I'm unkillable' button was nerfed. You can heal ~1500 a hit now, instead of 15%, the latter figure of which makes you almost unkillable when your base damage of 150k x 444% for Rapid Fire + Rockets means you're healing 40k health in one second, so unless your rapid fire gets broken, or you get one hit, you couldn't be killed.
Heal on hit and life regen are now VERY important because of that. I heal a LOT on hit now, and Shadow Power on Blood MOon makes it 3k more as long as I hold the button down, but given the sheer number of special attacks elites can send at me, it won't keep pace (I could generally keep pace with at least 5 plagues or desecrates under me before).
It's true for all the classes, btw. The uber healing stuff was nerfed. They let us do more damage, and made life regen and heal on hit more common to make up for it. It has the flip side of giving us less down time.
Ah, companions! Your companions now have passive and active effects. They don't die. The 'passive' effect is the old one, which you get all the time now, and the critters don't die. The active one is if you hit the button and trip the cooldown timer. The bat gives you 50 Hate, the spider webs everything close by, the boar lures everything to it, and the wolf gives you a +30% damage boost for a few seconds.
I'm going to try another run through with boar instead of bat and see how it works. The extra regen and resistance buff should be useful.

Equipping my second tier stuff to my monk got his damage from 60k to 100k. :o

Any questions? Keep in mind that I've not played the other classes through yet, it's only been 4 days, and I prefer a DH.

And if you're looking for some loot upgrades, well, hey, I got old stuff I'm going to get rid of. The stuff I'm just selling would probably have been uber gear at one time.

21) Legendaries now bind to account, so the new ones are non-tradable UNLESS you give them away to someone who was playing with you at the same time (as I did with Ariaspinner, who popped into a game I was playing)


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

You build me up in the fifth book by saying one of the PC's, or Queen Galfrey, is going to be the new Herald of Iomadae.

And then...nothing? No mention in the story of what it does for the Crusaders? No template to apply? What powers are gained? What stats are modified? Do they become an outsider?

I was assuming the Herald status was thrown out there to counter the fact that your primary foe is a half-succubus. (OMG look at that Con score)

Is the PC suddenly a cookie-cutter clone of the Herald? Because that's likely a huge step down for level 18/9 mythics.

And why is the fact that a PC may be radiating the direct divine favor of Iomadae have no mention anywhere in the book? Eesh. Those demons should be shaking in their boots seeing a mythic hero is now the Herald, instead of some rote summonable deva.

Was it cut for space? Because if it was, I think you should post it for everyone to see.

I want to know what Queen Galfrey has going for her as the Herald of Iomadae, dagnabit!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

21 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 2 people marked this as a favorite.

Inquiring minds want to know.

In #5 of the Wrath of the Righteous AP, the Warden Yleshka uses a bunch of +1 Defender weapons. It is explicitly stated in her tactics that she will sacrifice the bonuses on her weapons to gain AC bonuses if she doesn't have her armor.

Since when do the bonuses from multiple Defender weapons stack?

I need to know if this is an official rules update or was simply missed and should be written up as a special ability of the warden. Because as of right now this would seem to me to be an impossible tactic in the same way no other bonuses stack with themselves.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

The requirements of an item reference a class ability.

Is the proper format (example): Mercy class feature, Mercy class ability, Mercy class ability, mercy class ability, Mercy, mercy, etc?

I was trying to find an item that referenced a class ability and couldn't find one directly.

Furthermore, if the item requires two class abilities, are they listed by level of attainment (Mercy, Aura of Justice) or alphabetically?

Heh. Formatting to spec.Fun stuff.

This question is the last one that needs to be answered. I've had my item ready to go since last year...and the archetype for two years!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Pretty much to the week.

For those of you who don't know it, Asheron's Call was I think the 3rd big MMORPG, after Ultima and Everquest. It has the distinction of being the first of the games to offer updates every single month, basically forcing updates from every online game that came afterwards to keep pace. The graphics are old in comparison to newer games, but that helps them run on older machines, and the character generation architecture is much more open ended then any other game out there.

I played on the Leafcull server, which boasted several devs with characters there. I was a monarch of my own Allegiance for several years, until most of the characters I founded the game with moved on to other games, and then I swore under a variety of others, ending with King Cobra, lord of the 3 mule accounts.

My Allegiance was full of some great gamers in its heyday. When the Olthoi Queen live event was in action, we killed 3 of the 4 generals on the server...and I missed my shot at the unique title granted when I couldn't log on to receive it the next day. Scotty the Handy Man, at my request, beat all the PK people when running the Crystals Quest, and so the level 7 life buff crystal ended up in the primary 'good guy' questing hall. I ran the Aerlinthe Island recall quest so many times I can still picture every dungeon from beginning to end on the entire quest (and people still ask me if I named my character after the island, when I was there first!)

I was a gimp sword melee, back when sword sucked, and I didn't get creature magic until almost a year into the game (that is the stat buffing skill).

But my interest in playing starting waning when I didn't have time to go on all the quests, and joining pickup groups made me feel like I was second string. too, I reached the maximum level, but they put in a 'new xp' tier, giving characters more buffs, and I just didn't have the time or patience to start grinding and trying to maximize those out. Too, I didn't have time to kill things for loot and really upgrade my gear with the latest and best stuff, and I never macroed for loot or gold, so I just fell further behind.

I stopped running the 'auto' monthly quests, and that was pretty much the death knell. Even when I was playing other games, I always ran certain key quests every month, and I just had enough.

I did finish with a Melee, a Mage, and an Archer all at the max level, played straight through that way, no power levelling, macroing, and then respeccing the character as is common. I never maxed my trade character, it was a lot harder because she actually has the trade skills now, instead of levelling up as a playable character and then speccing out, but that was fine. I was satisfied with her progress.

I had the same Villa from the day it opened up, and I actually had the jungle wasp wing needed to take it in a collection of wings on my mule, and I got it when three other people were there waiting for it! :) I took all my items down off the walls and stowed them on mules...that was a sad moment, watching all those old memories get put away. Sure, a lot of the stuff is old and useless, but just to remember what those little collections of pixels stood for at one time...

My main character was Aelryinth, my sword guy, starting with a 70 Str that Gimped me for almost two years, before they introduced the stat mechanic where you could change around your core stats, and let me advance to base 100. He ended up a sword spec, crossbow spec, melee d spec, shield spec, arcane lore spec, item tinker spec, item and creature magic trained. Never used life magic on him, unlike just about any other melee on the server, they all used life magic in one way or another. I just relied on wands.

At one point, they took a snapshot fo skills per server, and I ended up with the highest sword skill at the time, totally irking several higher level melee guys. Hah!

I can remember the times runnign all the differnt portal routes to get there, who had what rare ties on mules so we could get from place to place. You don't need that as much anymore, but there's still a lot of old ties around to strange places in the game.

I haven't seen any of the new content for the past six months, it's almost all group stuff, and I don't like being a ninth wheel in groups.

I had great friends in that game, some of whom went on to become great monarchs on their own after serving under me.

So, a final shout out, where they'll never see it, to:

D'nia. The last one besides me to leave from the old days.
Bane the Bloodguard, my first vassal.
Jagwire, my second vassal.
Stargrove, my Castellan, who held the Allegiance together outside the game.
Photius and Mrs. Photius. yes, Husband and wife in real life.
Damon, one of the best archer players I ever knew, and his buddy Faithless, tri spec dagger guy.
Rage, who built the first xp chain on the server, the first real monarch I recruited, a fellow sword guy.
Eddie Smokingtoad, my first real long term hunting buddy. I still miss him.
Bonghitz, who had his character deleted for his name and rerolled a pure mage he owned with, called Blackened.
Quidlor, the first great solo quester and tank mage in the game I knew. I will never forget him doing a body recovery for me at 1 AM from the 'fairies from hell' in the early game.
Lakeon, the first uber staff character and mass quest organizer across Allegiances.
Og, for creating the Og mage.
Brandish, for all his craziness, who took the tri-spec dagger template I recommended and ran with it.
Briggs, who had no item magic, and who I showed how to use wands. just the greatest guy playing a sworder in the early game.
M'koth, the real life friend who killed the Tremendous Monuga at the end of beta, and got me into the game.
Thase Skotoso, my first real monarch who showed what being a monarch was all about (and who still plays and is a monarch!)
Nightwolf, for being an Aluvian UA and not giving a damn.
Quidlor, a real life friend, for taking after Nightwolf.
Devilmouse the dev, for letting us know how to pronounce Ghar-un-DEEM and TOO-TOO.
Scotty the Handy Man, for running Survivor: Leafcull and getting even the devs involved in it, and putting the buffing crystal in the good guys' dungeon.
Morgana, that crazy brit archer playing 5 hours ahead of us, and still managing to join in and have a good time, fearless of her 5000 deaths and rising, and her husband Tinuvial for joining in.
Nozo Quai, who played when he shifted off duty on the nuclear submarine he crewed. He's working on Wall Street in information support now.

There are others, lots of others, but these are the ones that stuck with me as singular events and people that defined the game experience for me.

Asheron's Call, I'm logging off, and I likely won't ever be back, but I had some great times with you.

=+Aelryinth of Leafcull, Monarch of the Allegiance of the Steel, sword gimp and never macroed once.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

The title of the original story attracted me first...Kell's Legend. It had obvious riffs on Druss the Legend, and I love Gemmell, so I picked it up and read it.

A considerable amount of time later, I found a new bookstore and found out the series had been completed and compiled, and all three were cheaper then buying the second two, so I picked up the collection.

Andy Remic's style in these novels is David Gemmell meets Quentin Tarintino. He builds up characters with backstory and details and descriptions of how powerful and strong they are...and then butchers them heartlessly with only a sentence or two.

Of the three novels, the first is the best, largely because it doesn't play as much on how decadent the dandy Saark is, or how obsessed Kell is with the fact he's an evil man trying to be better. It sets itself up nicely with the conflict with the Vachine ('vampire machine' race) and normal humanity, and as the series progresses, we start getting implications of age and other forces at work, the return of REAL vampires (who loathe the vachine) and other intelligent races who aren't human, or are mutations of it.

The magic in the book is very technographic, fueled by 'blood-oil' made from real blood. The vachine actually have clockwork machines inside them making them faster and stronger then mere humans, and sometimes they even go bad and create hideous 'cankers' out of those afflicted with bad clockwork. The trade in blood to make blood oil is even given a name (Karakan Red, it's called), and many of the people in the book are totally amoral or accepting of callous disregard of life.

It's safe to say in this book Kell is probably the most moral character, and he's done some really bad things in his life. The character Saark comes across as a flat, uninspired dandy whose excellent sword skills are completely overshadowed by foes faster and stronger then he is, and of course Kell with his axe in hand is pretty much the most invincible thing in the book. You want an example of a 2handed fighter 20 build? Go no farther then Kell cutting down almost all his foes with one strike. The women characters tend to be unsympathetically 'realistic', completely overwhelmed by stronger and faster foes and without combat training. The only one who can actually fight also ends up being so mentally unstable it's hard to become attached to her, and like all others her skill tends to fall away into shadow around Kell.

Combat in this book is the brief Gemmell style, with a lot more gore. People die in the space of seconds, what duels there are exist because the people involved can take more then one or two hits. Mostly, Kell hits things, and they come apart.

If you like Gemmell, you'll probably think the story is okay, and the magic and techno aspect underlying everything gives it a flavor of its own. It doesn't have Gemmell's brevity of words, and is heavier on the blood and slaughter. There's nothing resembling a classic hero as a main character, and this pervades the whole book. Anyone who is 'good' seems to be a simpering weakling preyed upon by those who fewer morals, or inhumans with no morals at all. Incidences of hapless slaughter abound, until you get to the point you just gloss over them.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give these stories a 3...there's definitely some new ideas worth mining, but the continual reinforcement of how decadent a fop Saark is (even after the entire novel and slaughter of much of his homeland), how whiny needy Nienna is, how broodingly awesome and dangerous Kell, and a lot of bluntly crude descriptive language taint a lot of the story with prose that could have been cut in the end.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Finished normal difficulty with Wizard, and I'm on Act 3 with Demon Hunter. I've been switching off the characters, I'm almost through act 1 on Nightmare with my Wizard.

Diablo tricks and tips: METAGAME

Use Elective Buttons so the skills you use the most are on the keys you want them on. Quite convenient.

THe Crafters RETAIN THEIR LEVELS between different characters. I didn't know this when starting the game, or at least was not certain of it. What this means is that if your first character can level up the crafters, your second and third+ characters are ASSURED of getting items respective for their level.

Your GOLD and CACHE CHEST are retained between characters. No need for muling. You just put the doodad you want from one character into the chest for the second.

INTELLIGENCE = RESISTANCES. Yeah, that's right. Your resistance to fire/cold/poison/lightning damage is based on your INT score. So, you can't hose it.

Dexterity = DODGE. AC = absorb damage (all types).

Str/Dex/Int: Damage based on stats is PERCENTAGE modifies your weapon. Thus, at low levels, things that give you a +2-4, 3-6, 4-8 damage are VERY nice. It's about +1%/2 points, I believe...I could be wrong, and would love to know the real number.
So, if you've a weapon with 25 DPR, and you've a choice between +2-4 dmg and a +20 dex, go with the 2-4...the +20 dex will be +10%, which is only 2.5. As your weapon gets better and better, the fixed damage boosters become less and less important, until you want all + stat boosters if possible.

Vitality is VERY important. More health gives you time to stay alive and hopefully stay that well until the healing well is back full or your Potion Timer goes away.

Basic Gameplay.

1) Pick your first Two CHARACTERs. This is important because the loot creatures drop is generally 5-10 levels below what you can currently wield (i.e. a level 30 character is picking up level 20-25 stuff). This means you can supply someone lower level with loot that's really usable. It also means your highest level character generally has inferior stuff unless they use the Blizzard Auction House (I don't).

2) Grab loot for your second character, stow it in the chest. Level up the Smith and Gemcrafter so you can buy new stuff.

3) Don't pick up 'normal' junk, even at low levels. You make no money, you waste time, it takes up space. Magical stuff is the ONLY stuff worth picking up, and potions (because potions stack). Oh, and gems, at later levels. My wizard never grabbed anything that he wasn't either going to wear (the first few peices of armor) and I was level 7 before I had to sell anything.

4) If you buy anything from a vendor, you can buy it multiple times.
This is important because after Haedrig's Wife, you gain access to the fence that sells jewelry. If the vendors have weapons you can use, you can always grab TWO of them (useful if you're Dual Wielding Hand Crossbows).
You should always try to grab two Rings of +2-4 dmg (and if you're lucky, a bonus to attack speed). At level 7 or so when you get them, this should instantly double your damage and make your next few levels a cakewalk. If they have a decent weapon for your level, you'll clean up!

5) The Demon Hunter is probably the easiest class to solo with the first 15 levels, but the Wizard has a great mix of damage, AoE, and crowd control stuff, and the power of Diamond Skin is not to be underestimated. Invulnerability = perfect tanking, and when you've got the AoE's a wizard does, a few seconds of that is usually enough to wipe an area.

Note: I was always picking up potions and never using them. The cool down timer means that they are only good for emergencies, so you need to invest in Vitality items to up hit points, use the Templar for emergency heals. I had tons of excess potions all the time.

6) At lower levels, you've a huge need for up the crafters, expanding your cache, buying jewelry, etc. You have to salvage magic items to Haedrig to get the raw material for the stuff he makes, but you'll rapidly find that you'll rarely need his later items unless you've had particularly poor luck finding a decent belt.
Magic items are the only things that sell for serious money, so once you've a good stack of salvaged magical item goodies, you're set. Note that you can't salvage above 100 items in a stack. If your higher level guy dumps their extra salvage horns and eyes in the Cache for your lower levels to use, they never need to salvage anything but uniques.

7) My Demon Hunter is waaaaay ahead of where my Wizard was at her level. Actually, my Wizard is 34 and my DH is 28, and their damage is about the same (since the Wizard is earning gear for the DH). This is making things a ton easier for my DH then it was for my wizard.

Key Differences between classes

1) The wizard as a class is VERY good at monster killing. Reason? Arcane ORb. This spell you get early and use often. Sure, you only get 3 of them before you need to recharge...that's FINE. Because if you have any range, you'll get all three off on a foe before the first one hits, and you can devastate even the tougher blue and gold mobs that you can start hitting them with magic missiles before the last orb hits them!

I spent most of my first few levels using Arcane Orb and Magic Missile. I'd use Ray of Frost for emergencies, and upgraded later to Disintegrate at later levels. When Electrocute/Chain Lightning came up, that became my spell for the end of Act II/start of Act III, until the resistances of stuff seemed to get too high, and I went back to spamming magic missile in the Split foray.

It took me WAY too long to get a decent wand, and level 12-15 before I got an off hand source to help up my damage, so I was walking around with an Apprentice wand and shield for way too long.

For most of the Act II-IV, I was doing the Diamond Skin/Prism Armor for longform killing of powerful stuff, running around avoiding and healing in between the combo, and stacking magic missiles on the side. I did Use Arcane Torrent against Belial, but rapidly found out I needed a lot more Hit Points as my evasion ability was poor, and I was definitely subprime on the DoT. It took me 4 tries to kill him.

Interestingly enough, it only took me two tries to kill the Butcher...but the Butcher was reaming on my Demon Hunter. I think it's because the high Intelligence means I was much less susceptible to the area burn of the Butcher Arena.

At high levels, the Chaos Beam version of Disintegrate is all the AoE you will need, and will wipe out ANY rote mobs that get off on you if you spring your Prism Armor first.

Using Archon is even more powerful then Disintegrate, although the cooldown means you'll only use it once except on a really tough boss fight (I hit Diablo with it once before the shadow fight, and once after).

I soloed Diablo the first time with my wizard, no deaths. Health was high enough to take being captured and crushed multiple times, and I just had to wait between Prism armor and disintegrate regens.

Special Note: With Prism Armor up, your Cold Ray cost is reduced to O. Yes, you can literally sit there and spam a cold ray for the entire duration of the Armor, and your power doesn't get used up at all.

Henchman: I use the Templar. His job is emergency heals, speeding up my health regen, and engaging enemies a distance aways from me, which lets me set up AoE's centered on him. His stun charge is great, buys me time, and with the Chaos Ray, I can hose down multiple bad guys at one time, including a boss hiding behind minions, and the spell also takes care of any who pass him to get close to me.
Also, a disintegrate ray is a great way of destroying, say, 18 objects in a room in a few seconds...

I am using Meteor as a nice opening volley at a distance. If there's a cluster of enemies at the end of the screen, I can drop two Meteors on them and either kill them or really soften them up.

I use Magic Weapon for the +30% dmg buff. I have Glass Cannon and Astral Prescence and Evoker to up my damage output. If I can kill stuff before it gets to me, I don't have to worry about defenses.

Most of my Wizard gear is level 27 or lower, so damage is suboptimal. Hit points are over 2400, however. I'm using a unique wand with a flawless ruby in there for damage, and that has helped. Gem loot, Crafter pages and the like are being collected to level up the crafters, and of course the cash helps the lower levels.

Demon Hunter next.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

This floating mass of cancerous alien flesh is surrounded by a cloud of long, writhing cilia.

Cancer from the Void CR 7
XP 3200
CE Large Aberration
Init +3; Senses Blindsight 60’; Perception +0
Aura dissonance of the void (60 ft.), unnatural aura

----- Defense -----
AC 21, touch 10, flat-footed 20 (+1 Dex, +11 natural, -1 Size)
hp 95 (10d8+50); fast healing 5
Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +7
DR 5/-; Immune poison; Resist fire 10, cold 10; SR 19
Weaknesses cold iron, positive energy

----- Offense -----
Speed fly 20 ft. (perfect)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks corrupting cilia (5d6+5 + corruption)
Spell-Like Abilities
Constant—deathwatch, detect magic

----- Statistics -----
Str 16, Dex 13, Con 19, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 10
Base Atk +7; CMB +11; CMD 22 (cannot be tripped)
Feats Toughness, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Great Fortitude, Following Step(B)
Skills Spellcraft +17, Fly +20
Languages Aklo
SQ child of the void, all-around sight

----- Ecology -----
Environment any non-aquatic
Organization solitary or plague (2-12)
Treasure normal

----- Special Abilities -----
Child of the Void (Ex) A cancer is considered an ooze for all hostile spell effects not originating from an aberration. It can enter into a hibernating state allowing space survival, and is capable of limited space flight. When hibernating, it exudes a protective coating that makes it immune to the shock and heat of earthfall. The coating's purple hue is distinctive as it burns away during descent.
Corrupting Cilia (Ex) A cancer extrudes an undulating swarm of feelers and cilia into the entire area within its reach that caress everything therein. A DC 19 Reflex save avoids the cilia’s lethal touch, and dodge bonuses apply to the roll (save DC’s are Constitution-based). The save is required each time a creature enters the cancer’s reach, and each round it remains there.
A living creature failing the Reflex save takes 5d6+5 points of body-corrupting damage, and must make a DC 19 Fortitude save or take 2 points of Constitution damage as its flesh bubbles, boils and necrotizes from the unnatural energies shuddering through it. Death by corruption results in collapsing into a festering, quivering mass of pustules and tumors that the cancer quickly scoops up for consumption, seizing also any magical items it can discern on the corpse. Corpses not consumed agglomerate into gibbering mouthers, given time.
Aberrations are immune to the cilia’s secondary effect.
Dissonance of the Void (Sp) A cancer radiates an aura of magical disruption that makes the brains of creatures with magical ability throb nauseatingly. Non-aberrations in this aura must make a defensive Concentration check to use magic successfully.
Voidborn Vulnerability A cancer takes +5 damage from the touch of non-magical cold iron as a hyperallergic reaction.
If struck by positive energy, a cancer is immediately dazed for one round as its squirming flesh erupts in writhing growths and bursting polyps from the surge of healing energy.

Bulbous masses of obscene pseudo-flesh from the depths of the Dark Tapestry, cancers of the void, or ‘The Purple Heralds of the Tapestry’, resemble great floating cyst-infested tumors surrounded by constantly writhing tendrils of all sizes that fondle everything about it with malignant hunger. Ponderous and resilient, cancers are drawn to magic and life, and at their touch everything that lives warps, mutates, and dies from erupting necrotic growths. When purple stars fall, sky-gazing druids and watchful flumphs rush to resist this unnatural corruption from between the stars, even as master aberrations hurry to enslave the cancers and take their void-born secrets for themselves.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

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Fear, Fist, and Flame
Alignment: CN
Headquarters: Dreadhand Keep in Wyvernsting.
Leaders: General Ironheart Askak; Warlord Orngrim the Horned Claw; Firespeaker Chesaka the Soul Burner
Structure: Mercenary company with three clan divisions.
Scope: Regional
Resources: Fear, Fist and Flame is based in Dreadhand Keep, their original home in half-orc dominated Wyvernsting. Hornshiver, the second most important holding, is a slowly expanding half-orc enclave set about an ancient siege castle outside of Absalom, and is where much hiring of the company’s members is done. Last of the major company holdings is where the monster-taming of the company takes place; Burning Dreams Tower, located on the border of Belkzen and the Worldwound lands.
Structure and Leadership: Fear, Fist and Flame is the name for the mercenary company of the Gorum-worshipping half-orc clans descended from Rokgos Demonheart, a demon-blooded half-orc sorcerer who managed to pass on all three of his bloodlines. Clan Hornshiver, the ‘Fear’, is the ‘human-blooded’ clan, with sage sorcerers and ice-tongued lady-bards providing the company’s cunning advisers, generals, and monster-controllers. Clan Dreadhand, the ‘Fist’, forms the raging heart of the company, with its demon-blooded black-clawed berserkers often leading savage orcs eager for battle. Clan Burning Dreams, the ‘Flame’, boasts orc-blooded sorceresses and their warrior-priest brothers, who stoke the company’s burning racial pride and faith in Gorum, and contribute fiery battle magic and healing power. Kin-bands of the company lead mercenaries and monsters pulled from the savage lands of Belkzen for gold and glory in Gorum’s name...and for those who can meet their price.
Goals: Fear, Fist, and Flame unifies the three bloodlines of Rokgos. It satisfies each clans’ goals: enhancing the wealth and power of the clans; earning respect and glory for the half-orc race; and subtly spreading the image of half-orcs as the favored people of Our Lord in Iron. The company’s ultimate dream is to claim a land in battle for half-orcs alone.
Public Perception: Fear, Fist and Flame is known as a brutal, pragmatic, and proudly mercenary organization of half-orcs willing to do jobs both fair and foul. The fire-haired female generals and sorceresses of the company are highly desired and feared among the Belkzen orcs, and their black-fingered brothers are likewise respected. In more civilized human realms, the company is acknowledged as being startlingly dependable, quite amoral, and excellent leaders of monsters and savage humanoids for hire.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Aelryinth

Figurine of Familiar Power
Aura Mild Conjuration; CL 5th
Slot -; Price 2500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This item is a small statuette, from three to six inches high, in the form of an animal commonly used as a familiar by spellcasters. Unlike most figurines, it is always made of light wood, usually birch or maple, intricately carved and detailed in the likeness of the animal. Most such figurines seem to favor hawks, owls, and other flying animals.
The figurine serves as an abode for any familiar. With a move action, a familiar can enter or exit the touched figurine, and is sustained and sheltered from harm while within it. If the figurine is destroyed, the familiar is ejected harmlessly into an adjoining space. The figurines are deceptively tough, with hardness 10 and 20 hp.
For one hour per day, renewing at dawn, the familiar can choose to take the form of the animal the figurine is carved in the shape of. This form manifests as a summoned creature of the type the figurine represents, while the figurine transforms into a copy of the familiar’s natural form. The familiar can use the new body as if it were a familiar of the figurine's animal type. This might change the bonus it grants its master during this time period.
Killing the summoned form does not harm the familiar. Unique markings of the familiar will transfer to the new form’s appearance.
Effects that ward off summoned creatures will bar the new form, and a dispel magic, dismissal, or similar magic will banish it until the following dawn, reverting the figurine back to its natural state. This also does no harm to the controlling familiar.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item; monster summoning I; has a familiar; Cost 1250 gp

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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The Ultimate Pathfinder Sword, the Sun Sword!

Be forewarned: Once your DM sees the power of a Sun Sword, he may well not allow you to ‘build up’ to a Sun Sword, and thus it will only be available until later levels (10+). I would argue strongly that allowing the Short Sword effect should be allowed, at least.

Note: The Sword does NOT calculate smoothly. I assumed that the ‘Good alignment’ restriction bought off the 1/day Sunlight effect, which is mostly worthless.


Masterwork Bastard Sword, 335 gp.
Adamantine, +3000 gp.
+2 Enhancement Weapon.
Scourge/Evil (+2/+2 against Evil creatures) - +1 bonus (=Bane)
Double dmg against Undead/Negative energy creatures (Undead Slayer) - +1 bonus (=Bane)
Sunlight in area 1/day. ? Cost offset by Good Weapon (negative level if not Good).
Counts as a Shortsword as well as Bastard Sword. = +1 bonus.

Priced: Adamantine +5 Weapon, 28335 to make, 53335 value. Nominal price = +5 Weapon.

A Sun Sword in Carrion Crown

This should make a DM sit up and cry.

In Carrion Crown, you should have for the Melee in your Party a Ranger with FE: Undead maxed out, or a Paladin who can smite all day.

Again, you’ll want to make your character with Craft Magical Arms and Armor, and Magical Artisan if you don’t have a caster level (rangers and paladins do, nicely enough). You’ll still need to invest in Spellcraft.

You make the Sword as Follows:

+1, Adamantine if possible.
+2 Scourge of Evil. You should be able to get this just as you’re facing the werewolves, it pops the sword bonus to +3 and takes care of the DR/silver.
+3 Undead Slayer…by end of Werewolf AP.
+4 Counts as Short sword. Can now one hand and get Shield AC.
+5 +2 Weapon.
Sunlight/Good alignment ‘free’.
+6 Undead Bane. Yes, they stack.
+7 Ghost Touch, if you can’t get it another way.
+8 +3
+9 +4
+10 Valorous or +5

At a cost of 9k to you, you should be able to afford the Undead Slayer effect by level 8. Undead Slayer Doubles FE and Smite bonuses.

Power Attack -3 +6 (+9 TH)
At level 8, a THW Str 18 Ranger with +4 FE should be doing 2-20 + +26 dmg to Undead. With PA, +44.
A Similar Paladin should be doing 2-20 + 18 normally, and +36 Smiting. With PA potentially bought off by smite, +30, +54 Smiting.

At level 10, Ranger advances to +6 FE, Str 20? 2-20 + 28 One handed, +34 Two Handed.
Paladin is now 2-20 +16 Normal, +36 Smite, add +4 if two handed.
To both, add +12 or +18 if Power Attacking, Furious Focus can make it no penalty.

At level 12, Power Attack is now -4/+8 (12). Sword should be ‘complete’ at +2.
Ranger, Str 22, PA, One hand – 2-20 +48 One hand, + 62 Two Hands
Paladin, PA 2-20 + 36 One Hand, +50 TH, add +24 if Smiting.

At level 14-15, we add Undead Bane. Str 26. The AP ends a bit after this, so this is as good as it gets.
PA is -4/ +12 or +16 still. Ranger FE is now +8. The Sword is +6/+6 against Undead. Dmg dice from Undead isn’t doubled.

Ranger/15, with Power Attack: 2-20 +2-12 +68 one handed, + 84 two handed.
Paladin/15, with PA: 2-20 +2-12 + 52 one hand, + 68 Two Hands…and +30 when Smiting. Nightstalker? What Nightstalker? Oh, that was the BOSS encounter? But he died in one round…

Note that if you do a double damage smite in the opening round, it just gets sick . 4-32 +113 is really bad.

And if you can add in Valorous, well, TRIPLE DAMAGE on the charge, you should be able to one shot any Undead in the AP.

And no, I'm not going to show how sick it is for a THW Fighter Archetype build. I've got my limits.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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I thought I’d toss this together, being bored.

This is an organic build for Valeros, the iconic, in a 4 person classic party. Valeros defaults to a fighter, but being ‘organic’ we’re going to work with both Ranger and Chevalier levels for him. He wears that tankard on his belt for a reason and is stupid brave for a reason, you know.

Themes: Not very charismatic; fearless; good alignment; wields two mismatched weapons; Andoran; ex-farmboy; swordsman; devoted to Caydean Callidean.

Strong-Willed (Caydean Callidean) - +2 vs Charm/Compulsions

Andoran Freedom Fighter = +1 TH/Dmg against slavers and those holding someone against their will. Note: This can be applied to any creature using Enchantment magic (enslaving others), necromancers (enslaving undead), Master undead (enslaving other undead), representatives/nobles of governments that advocate slavery (such as Hellknights, Cheliaxans in general, etc), jailers, kidnappers, and probably devils (minions of the God of slavers) and priests of faiths that practice slavery.

Race: Human. Swap Skilled for Heart of the Fields, to reflect his background. His Craft will be Smithing (+1/2 level bonus to check) from fixing stuff on the farm, immune to fatigue/exhaustion 1/day.

Iconic starter Feat/Human: Varisian Big Game Hunter: Valeros has a bad habit of picking on things bigger than he is. +1/+2 against size L or bigger stuff. Good for a giant hunt.

Level 1: Fighter/1 General Fighter, because the TWF Archetype only gives attack bonuses on a full attack. TWF, his level 1 Fighter feat, requires a 15 Dex, so we’ll put his starting 15 there.

Ability Scores (Elite Array): Str: 14 Dex: 15 Con: 13 Int: 12 Wis: 10 Cha: 8
+2 for human goes into Str, raising it to 16.
All Further ability scores raises into Str.

Skill Points/level – 3. Flavor has him as a solo type, so Survival is in as a Ranger wanna-be, coming from a poor background, and likely a family devoted to Erastil. Craft will be Smithing. Last skill will be Intimidate…he’s not charming.

Favored Class bonus: Skill points or Hit points as you like. Since we’re multi-classing, he’s not going to get many of them.

Feats and Class levels
1st – Human (Varisian Big Game Hunter) - +1/+2 against size L. No, won’t see much use early in the AP. This reflects his ego and how he likes to pick on things that outsize him.
1st level – Weapon Focus (longsword) – He’s a sword goob who thinks he can conquer the world.
Ftr/1 – TWF. Because he thinks it’s a cool style. Note, he doesn’t HAVE to fight with two weapons…he can keep the offhand sheathed and swing with two hands if he likes.

The first book is all about fighting normal low level things like basic undead, humanoids, and goblins.

Ftr/2 – Power Attack. Gotta one hit those pesky goblins. Rargh!

3rd- Iron Will. By this level, he’s had experience with a lick of magic and realizes he’s not quite as strong-willed as he thought he was. This also sets him up for the Skinsaw Murders, where he’s exposed to more undead, fear effects, and will saves.
Bravery +1 (wahoo).
Note: +1 Armor Training, and moves normally in Medium Armor. He’ll likely be wearing Breastplate throughout his career, so this is good. Moving normally means he could tumble in it, except he’s got no Acrobatic ranks.

Ftr/4 – Weapon Spec/longsword. Now he’s really good with a longsword. Hack on people. At this level he should be wearing a mithral buckler (so he can get shield AC if he doesn’t TWF, or can go two handed if he’s charging).

Str+1 (17 base).

5th level – Craft Magic Arms and Armor. Time to put those Smithing Ranks to use and his Heart of the Fields bonus!
Ftr Weapon Group – Heavy Blades +1. He’s now +9/+6 without magic with his longsword. If the enemy is size L and/or a slaver, he can get all the way to +11/+9.

Ftr/6 – Furious Focus. If he can’t full attack, at least the accuracy of his Power Attack isn’t compromised.
Put 1 rank each into Knowledge/Local and Diplomacy (buying off your Charisma penalty).

He’s now faced off against some powerful magical foes, and realizes he’s bound for greatness and that he really can take on anything. He hoists his tankard and takes a level of Chevalier in tribute to his patron god.

(7) Chevalier/1 – Recklessness (+Chev level th/dmg first round of combat against a foe) and Aura of Courage (totally immune to fear, +4 to friends in 10’r). +1/+1 to Fort/Will saves.
Also gets 5 Skill Points for Chevalier levels. Buy back the ranks to get in, and put some into Acrobatics or Diplomacy to reflect roguish ways. You want 5 Acrobatics ranks, and maybe a point or two in Ride.

Level 7 feat – Magical Artisan. Starts making/modifying his own arms/armor. At this point, he probably wants to get a Giant Bane weapon as rapidly as possible…it will be very useful through the rest of the AP, and he’s already fought the ogre-kin. Ideally, he’ll start on a GiantBane Sunsword…

Which would naturally lead to…

(8th)Ranger/1 - +2 FE (Giants), Tracking, Wild Empathy. Can now also use Cure Wands. Keep his starting skills maxed out, and max Perception until it catches up. +2/+2 to Fort/Reflex saves. He's out of doors, tracking down Giants, and killing them. How could he NOT take a Ranger level, especially after rescuing the ones at Hook Mountain?

Str +1, Now Base 18. Once Perception is maxed, do Acrobatics. Leave Stealth to the Stealther unless you have to.

Against Giants with the Longsword +1 Giant bane, (Str 20) you are +21/+16, +14 +2d6 dmg, with slaver/1st rd bonuses. This goes -2 if you are TWF, which you should probably only do against things with Low AC.

(9th) Rgr/2 – Sub Ranger TWF for Fighter feat, swap out level 1 Fighter Feat for Point Blank Shot, or Dodge. If your DM allows you to take Extra Favored Enemy, also a great choice (undead or Arcane Spellcasters).

9/Feat: Improved Initiative.

(10th) Rgr/3 – Favored Terrain, Hills/Mountains, + Endurance (saves bonuses, sleep in armor)

Now, however, we have to return to our starting town, fight more stuff, and then delve into an ancient holding of the Runelords. This is more magical stuff, and we need some reinforcement.

(11th) Chevalier/2- Reckless Charge (no AC penalty when charging),+ Stubborn Will - reroll all enchantment effects. This means he gets to save twice against most spells targeting his Will save. Woot!
11/feat – Improved Critical (longsword) – because he’s still a sword guy.

(12th) Chevalier/3 – Immune to Poison, +1/+1 to Fort/Will.
Smite Evil 1/day as Paladin of his level = Nova Technique.
He can now drink anyone under the table. DC 30 Poison Save? What’s that? Note his Cha is too low to give him a big bonus to hit on smites unless he really pumps it, but he doesn’t really need it.

Str +1 (now base 19)

Remaining levels will be Ranger…it’s basically all outdoors, engaged in pursuit of the Runelords and their final holding. Up into the mountains we go!

(13th) Rgr/4 – Hunter’s Bond/ Companions (Currently, Move action to grant +1 FE for allies against Giants, lasts 1 rd). Probably won't get used much, but his Animal COmpanion would be better served as Lunch.

Feat/13 – Favored Enemy Defense (Giants) - +1/2 FE bonus to AC against Giants.

(14th) Rgr/5 – FE: Giants +4, Second FE (Monstrous Humanoids or Undead)

At this point, you should make a couple choices.
If you can get a Wand of Instant Enemy to buff with before a fight, You should consider dropping Longsword Focus and Spec in favor of other feats. Step Up and Step Up and Strike are useful here. The +4 modular FE bonus is equal to the highest level of weapon training.
You should get Gloves of the Duelist and raise your Weapon Training bonus to +3.

If someone else in the party has the Arms and Armor feat and is a caster, I suggest Toughness and Vital Strike or Spellbreaker.

(15th) Ranger/6 – Combat Feat (Improved TWF) – Note, no Dex req, but you should have a +4 or +6 kicker by now, anyways.

15/feat – Lunge - +5’ reach for -2 AC.

(16th) Ranger/7 - Woodland Stride – Not slowed by natural terrain/undergrowth

Str +1 (Natural Str 20)


At this point, Valeros/16th level looks like this:
Saves (Before stat/magic mods): F: +12 R: +8 W: +8 (+2 vs Compulsions, reroll Enchantments)
Base Stats: Str: 20 Dex: 15 Con: 13 Int: 12 Wis: 10 Cha: 8
Immune to Fear. (thhhpppp!)
Immune to Poison.
Smite Evil 1/day, 16th level. A Nova technique!
No AC Penalty/charging.
+3/+3 Th/dmg first round of combat.
+4 FE against Giants, +2 Dodge AC against Giants. +2 Another FE.
+1 Dex limit in Armor, probably using Mithral Breastplate. Not slowed by Medium Armor, can sleep in it.
Can track at speed. Favored Terrain/ Mountains.
Can use Wands with Ranger spells.
+1/+1 against slaver types (many of the giants/lamias in xin-shalast)
Can make magic armor/weapons at half price from feats.Important!

Str should be 26 with a +6 Belt. Assume Gloves/Dueling (+2 Weapon Training). Longsword should be at least +5 Giant Bane, or a Sun Sword. He should be wearing a mithral buckler +5 on his off arm, and using a Magical Short Sword +3 or better, if possible. If he can swing a Sun Sword, awesome…Heavy Sword bonus, but only -2 TH penalty! It would actually be the ideal off hand weapon.

(Actually, the ideal course of action at this point would be Focus/Spec/Crit: Shortsword, and use a Giant Bane Sunsword and REALLY go to town…change weapon training to light blades and you get all bonuses with both blades, and the thematic big sword in main hand!)

Attacking non-favored creatures with his sword, he’ll be: +33/28/23/18 th, +18 on damage, but +36, +21 dmg in the opening round of combat. He can Power Attack for -5/+10, or NO TH penalty on standard attacks, which would be +28/+23/+18/+13, +28 on damage.
If they are size L, add +1/+2. Slavers, +1/+1.
Against Giants, total should be +36 TH base, +22 +2d6 damage, +1/+1 if slavers (like all Rune Giants). Standard Action, +36 Th, +32 dmg +2d6, critical 17-20.

He can Nova with a Smite at +Cha (likely only +1)/+Level 1/day. All attacks against a foe at +16 damage. With six attacks possible if TWF, he should be able to rend just about anything out there.
His next three levels will probably be Ranger, to get him to rgr/10 and +6 FE. Getting to Ftr/9 would allow Greater Weapon Focus and WTrain +2, but eh. And he's not going to wear heavy armor.

Kindly note: Not an Optimized character, but grown organically to deal with the AP as it advanced. You could probably make a straight ranger that did much the same thing, but with higher FE bonuses, slightly less effective all around combat (or Instant Enemy reliant), but more skill points. A Horizon Walker build exploiting Favored Terrain Mountains against FE’s could be lethal, too, but Valeros didn’t strike me that way.

Our Valeros should use his Crafting to advance his arms and armor along as quickly as possible for as cheaply as possible. Giants hit hard, he doesn’t have heavy armor and will need a high AC. Note that his dex will hit 21, which maxes out a Mithral Breastplate. He can wear an Adamantine BP, use his Armor Training, and end up with 1 less AC for DR 2/-.

Note that while a Giant Bane Longsword is the easiest Iconic path to follow for a weapon, his Ultimate Goal would be an Adamantine +5 Giant Bane Sun Sword. If your DM gives you the funds, You should try to make a +1 Adamantine Bastard Sword with the Sun Sword ability to also be treated as a Short sword. You should then switch weapon training to light blades to include the short sword in your off hand. Add Giantbane next, then +2, then +2 vs Evil, +3, +4, +5, x2 dmg to Negative Energy things, and ignore the Sunlight thing unless you want it. You’ll end up with a +6 Weapon that keeps all your bonuses, along with the weapon in your off hand.

Yes, I’m aware a shield would be a better offhand weapon then a shortsword…I’m going off the illustration! I think we can sneak a buckler on to him without a problem, for whenever he doesn’t want to hit things (or can’t) with his shortsword, and wants more than a +1 bonus (and makes use of his shield prof).

Given how much he’s going to be a punching bag, the Achievement feat that grants +2 Nat AC should be pretty much a given, and goes with his scarred visage. Note that being scarred up should ADD to an Intimidate check, not detract from it.

This build can be modified most easily by simply changing his FE starter. FOr instance, Elves makes a good FE for Second Darkness. Undead for Carrion Crown. Monstrous Humanoids for Serpent Skull (and all serpent folk are slavers, mwah hahaha!)

Another option is adding Craft Wondrous Item to halve his costs for stat boosting gear, which frees up even more money for miscellaneous stuff and defenses. It might actually be the single best use of a feat slot.

Feedback, comments welcome. Remember, not trying to optimize stats, grown organically, and trying to make things logical!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Feat One: Have a sucky feat tax at the start.

Feat Two: let's make anyone who doesn't have the ability to swing at you more then once a round, who is unable to get a full attack on a move, or who is using a Vital Strike, to be completely useless. After all, we only fight tons of mooks, not single big monsters.

Feat three: After we make them useless, let's turn all our fights into AoO fights. Normal attacks are now just useless.

---Now, I know the feats are strong. I know they're trying to set up an effective defensive style of play.

But did they realize just how badly they trashed anyone under 6 BAB, anything that doesn't have multiple attacks on a move and strike, and the whole Vital Strike line?

Am I truly missing something in this feat chain? If you have SPring Attack and are dueling, you are basically invulnerable...


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

With favored enemy: Human.

He's got maybe 1 level of Barbarian...he never rages throughout the core novels that I can see.

He takes two feats to apply his FE bonus to saves and AC against humans, which works for basically every evil sorc he stumbles across. His second FE is probably Animals...helps kill all those giant apes.

He's basically barb/1 when he helps sack Volturnum, then goes straight ranger levels until he finally gains generalship of an army, takes 1 level of fighter (heavy armor prof), and for Leadership he's got the Count of Poitan.

He probably ends up barb/1, ranger/8, fighter/1 in a Pathfinder sense of things. Add ten levels of Ranger if you want him to be uber because of his legend. Give him a bonus combat feat instead of spells whenever he is entitled to a new level of spells, and use the Guide archetype instead of having a pet, although he seldom works with others.

But seriously, FE/human gives him a bigger and better damage bonus then weapon spec, and Conan might favor broadswords, but is perfectly fine with axes and scimitars. he doesn't care, he just kills. the superstitious trend also fits him perfectly.

Seriously, Conan is all about being sneaky,having great senses, and being at home in any environment.

His Favored Terrains are likely northern woods (those poor Picts); urban areas; deserts/arid plains; and the seas (likely extra favored terrains instead of spells), with jungles/mountains as possible kickers. His survival skills are high enough he can get by in just about any terrain, however.

As for stats: Human: Str: 20 Int:14 Wis: 14 Dex: 14 Con: 18 Cha: 16

All advances put into strength. Age bonuses to mental stats in later books. Note that advancing him to Ranger/10 will basically obviate almost ALL his physical decline from aging with another FE advance against humans. Favored class of Ranger, FC bonuses to HP or skills as you like.

With his FE bonuses on social skills against human, his influence is assured over his fellow men. He's as strong and tough as a human can be, a leader of men, quite intelligent and perceptive, and more then fast enough to hold his own (if not as nimble as many thieves).


And don't say he has to be level 20. He is not a 20th level character in the books by any stretch of the imagination. He's more analogous to a Lord from 1E...about 10th level. Which was incredibly powerful for fighter types back then.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Don't know if he's on vacation, or is sick again, or what...there's no posting to say anything, and Order of the Stick hasn't updated in about 3 weeks.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Like, level 1 spells that you'd cast as an archmage, or archpriest.

1) True Strike. +20 is ALWAYS useful.

Shield: mage can always use the shield bonus, if he's not carrying a +5 mithral buckler by then. And it works against incorps!

Grease: Maybe. Funny how much stuff still doesn't have ranks in Acrobatics or Balance or whatnot at high level...

Divine Favor: Even at high levels, a hard bonus to replicate, right?

And then I kind of run dry for level 1's...

Any others you can think of?


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Last book of the AP, Emperor of Scales and Hollow Serpents.

The Emperor has an ability, the Maddening Hiss, that is not referenced in the stat block itself under special attacks, spells, defenses or special qualities. I'm sure he's supposed to have it, but just making sure, because....

The Hollow Serpent has an ability in the stat block, 'dissonant hiss', that is not explained as a special ability. I'm wondering if he's supposed to have it at all.

Also, the Greater Hollow Serpent, the second ability uses the language 'The save DC is Constitution based' for one of its energy drain abilities. The Save DC is 26, and the snake is undead, so I assume its a cut/paste error and it was supposed to be Charisma based.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

No, not the shooting.

The melee damage.

Am I right that a pistol, not made for melee combat, does 1-6 dmg, equal to a mace?

Am I right that a rifle/musket/ does the same damage as a bastard sword, PLUS allows for a knockdown chance?

A pistol is nowhere near as effective at beating things as a mace. It might be equal to a jo stick (1-4 dmg) or a pair of brass knuckles.

A rifle used to beat something with is no better then a baseball bat, which is a 1-6 dmg club.

And Knockdown? for FREE? this is like the weapon of the gods. Uber ranged attack and melee all in one. Who cares about the misfire...I'm going to go around using a rifle to BEAT STUFF WITH for 1-10 dmg and knockdown! Woot! It's better then a 10 lb tetsubo or heavy mace!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

meh, it looked like a nice table when I posted it! :)


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I noted a rather glaring ommission in Serpent's Skull, and that's the lack of information on the fates of the other members of Kline's party.

By the time the party gets to him, they should be 15th level and have access to Resurrection. Kline would doubtless want to regain his companions, and divination magic could track them down, or their remains (I doubt they were disintegrated).

You even stumble across the body of Sirennenia (? at work), and she hasn't even been dead that long, and is 'recognizable'. But levels aren't given for her, despite the fact that ANY party would want to bring back a fellow Pathfinder, if for nothing else then to help provide security for the Pathfinder expedition up above on the surface, and back-up assistance for the big fight that is looming.

So, I've a request to the authors of the AP...could we get some basic stats for the other members of Kline's party?

I'd just like names and levels, if nothing else. You were pretty eclectic with Kline, so I'm thinking some weird combos are coming. Feats and stats if you are feeling charitable, along with appearence.



RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Last month's Pathfinder subscription, the level 10 Iconics. I'm looking at it, and kinda going, wth?

Deconstructing Valeros==================

So, I’m looking at this level 10 version of Valeros, the iconic fighter from Serpent’s Skull. Now, I know that he’s not supposed to be uber…after all, he’s made with the iconic stat array. But I’m also of the belief that a character should at least be playable and able to do the things that is required of his class, with defenses sufficient to stop those things that try to stop him from doing that.

I’m pretty sure Valeros falls down on all counts: Proper gear, proper stat allocation, and proper feats. I mean, there’s making a gimp, and there’s making a gimp people are supposed to hold as iconic?

To be sure, Serpent’s Skull is neither a timed adventure nor a chain of encounters. In essence, most of the encounter zones are fought 1/day, and consist of one or two fights. Sustained effort isn’t so much a problem, but still.


For all the iconics, a 15/14/13/12/10/8 stat blocks was assumed…except for the wizard. He used a 16/15/13/11/9/9, but that’s a separate issue.
Valeros is assigned 15 dex, 14 St, 13 Int, 12 Con, 10 Cha and 8 Wis. Most character builders are going to look askew at this…why isn’t Str highest, why is Int at 13, and why is Wis dumped instead of Cha, given a Fighter’s low Base will save?

Valeros is given +2 to Str for levels 4 and 8, and has a belt of +2 Str/Con. His final stats are Str 18, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 13 Wis 8 Cha 10

His Dex is 17 because he needs it to be a Two weapon fighter and take Improved TWF. His Int is 13 to give him access to Expertise. His Wis is 8 instead of Cha…because a +1 to Intimidate is more important then +1 to Will saves and +1 to Survival and Perception?

His Expertise gives him the option of -3 to hit and +3 to AC. He has no other feats that operate off Expertise, and given his -1 to -2 to hit over a more focused fighter, this feat is largely extraneous. He needs an AC bonus all the time, not some of the time, and certainly not at his expense to hit. Most of the boss monsters in the AP aren’t going to have any more problems hitting him at AC 28 then at his default of AC 25. Also, he has no acrobatics ranks, so his defensive fighting skills to further increase his defenses are stuck at -4 th, +2 AC for Defensive Fighting.

With 14 Con and average Hit points, he should be at approximately 80 hit points at level 10. With 95, and no Toughness feat, his Favored Class bonus was put into hit points. This is borne out by the fact he has 4 skills at max: 2 for Fighter class, 1 for human, and +1 for Int 13.

Due to the ‘level 10 world’ he’s in, there’s no benefit for changing Valeros’ Str and Dex…15 and 14 will provide the exact same benefits. The only elective here is the +2 Starter boost, which is assigned to Dex purely to get him ITWF. However, if you plan to hit level 12, there is a substantial boost if he starts with a 15 Str…he would get a 20 str at level 12. Since he’s already ignoring his armor training, this provides a big incentive to swap the scores.

Valoran’s saves rather suck. No, they do suck.

He has a cloak +1, +3 to Reflex from his Dex, -1 to his Will from Wis, and +2 to his Fort save, resulting in a final tally of +10 Fort, +7 Reflex, and +3 Will, +6 vs Fear.


Most of the fortitude saves at level 10 are in the DC 20 area because they are frequently based off monsters’ Con scores, meaning he has about a 50/50 chance to make them. Reflex saves are less common, but assuming an 18 DC base, again a 50/50 chance.

Will saves. Slow Spells are minimum 15…he’s going to fail, more often than not. Dominate Person is DC 18…he’s going to fail 70% of the time, at LEAST. Fear spells, DC 16, he’ll only fail half the time.
Brave Fighter, my arse. His DC to resist an Intimidate check from the monkeys is 19 (bravery only adds to will saves). Basically, at the start of every fight with the charud, he’s going to be shaking in the knees and -2 to hit. In that group, the FIGHTER is the easiest one to intimidate!

EVERYONE knows Fighters have to take Iron Will. Reflex is damage, you can soak it. But in any serious fight, Valeros is going to get charmed, can’t do anything about it, and will then be used against the rest of the party. Against a Dominate Person from a creature with a 20 stat, he has a whopping 15% chance of SUCCESS. In an AP with constant will saves against the Paranoia effects of the spores, you can basically write him off…he’s just sunk.

Ugh. In every spellcasting fight, he’s worse than useless. Unless he can reach the enemy and stop them from casting, he’s going to be turned against the rest of the party…that’s worse than useless, that’s a detriment.

And this is an Iconic?

Gear: ===========

+2 Breastplate: +5 AC, +3 Dex, +2 Enhanced. This is nice for his default Dex, but his Armor Training of +2 DEx limit is completely wasted!!!…he may as well not have the benefit!! On the other side of the equation, his ability to move at normal speed in heavy armor is ALSO wasted!! So…why have class benefits that are completely ignored and not made use of?!?

+2 Icy Burst longsword: His primary weapon, he has focus/spec in it, and Heavy Blades +2 weapon training. However, he has no feat to deal with DR. While Cold Iron and Silver can be alchemically mended by adjusting his gear sheet for minor cost, he also has the option of making his weapon adamantine. Also, his low stats for Str send him already behind the curve as far as hitting and doing damage…why is this +4 weapon Icy Burst? Especially for a TWF that already has problems hitting stuff? For 32k, it’s his biggest investment…and it’s subpar for a TWF. Especially one with low defenses. There's no defense for not having a weapon that either overcomes DR of some sort or is hard to break.

His secondary weapons are a +1 Short Sword and a +1 Str Longbow. The +1 Shortsword effectively does the following:

Deals 1-6 +4 dmg (+2 Str, +1 Enhance, +1 small blades). At the same time, it imposes a -2 to hit on his longsword, and is already at a further -2 vs main hand because of secondary nature. It grants him a +1 Shield AC while in hand. He does get a second attack with it, if he gets a full attack, but he doesn’t have Double Slice, so it’s otherwise useless to him unless the enemy stands still to get a full attack action…and Valeros would likely do more dmg just using a 3 pt Power attack for +6 damage, and a +1 Shield would net him +2 AC, and free up a feat. If he spiked the shield and took Shield for his second weapon, he’d do 1 pt less dmg for +1 higher AC, and one less feat, subbing Improved Shield Bash for TWF.

Actually, he should probably drop the TWF shtick entirely, and use his Longbow for secondary weapon. Getting d8+7 ranged attack is probably more useful than a d6+4 attack at -4, and its iterative at -9.
BUT, since we know he’s going to stick with it, we’ll make other arrangements.


Weapon Focus/Spec/Improved Critical, Longsword: This clearly illustrates that we want our attacks to be made with the longsword. Ntoe that a longsword can be wielded two handed if you don't want the +1 AC for a second weapon, giving another +2 dmg.

Disruptive, Step Up: These are intended to make it difficult for a Caster threatened by Valeros to get a spell off, and to follow one that tries to move out of reach. Thematic, they stay.

TWF, TWdefense, ITWF: These three feats together provide a three feat cost for little benefit…the damage from the secondary weapon is about half of the primary, doesn’t share in the spec feats, is an inferior magical weapon, and a heavy shield provides better AC, and a light shield the same AC, for no feat cost. It also imposes a stat requirement of 17 Dex, which wastes points elsewhere.

Expertise: This feat has a utility level of near 0. It’s not enough to stop him from getting hit, and with his already low TH capability, renders him problematic in combat. It also imposes a Stat req of 13 Int. Ugh.

Dodge: +1 AC is good.

Improved Init: We’re hoping to beat the spellcasters, because if they get a spell off, we’ve got problems.

Changes to make Valeros actually playable.

1) He has to raise his defenses. His cloak has to go to a minimum of +2, he needs to get rid of his Wis penalty, and he needs Iron Will. These aren’t even debatable. His Will save alone makes him a detriment to the party.

2) He has to actually make use of his class abilities. As it stands, he’s not using his armor training at ALL. In short, he needs to upgrade to a set of full plate +2. He still retains use of his Max Dex of +3, and armor training allows him to move at the full rate. Note that we are ‘existing’ in a level 10 world here…there’s no way he was going to upgrade from previous adventures regardless. So, set him at level 10 with proper gear.

3) Get rid of ITWF…it was never going to hit, anyways. Take base Dex down to 14. Get Gauntlets of Dexterity +2 for 4k, and shift the +2 racial to Strength. Lower Int to 12 and get rid of Expertise. Raise Con to 14 base from 12. Swap Wis and Cha. This shift results in Str 20, Dex 16, Con 16 Int 12 Wis 10 Cha 8. His Dex bonus and Int bonus do not change, but his Str score improves by +2, Con by +2, and Will save by +1. He nets a -1 to his Intimidate check.

4) We need more gold. Take the +2 Icy Burst sword down to a straight +3 Weapon, and make it adamantine, thus bypassing all material DR (I’d make it +1 and ask the priestess for a GMW to free up some gold, but the Pearl of Power to do this would wipe out the savings unless she was generous). Cost is 32k, goes down to 18k, freeing up 14k. Adamantine is -3k. 11k to play with.

Improve Cloak of resistance to +3. This costs 8000 gp, leaving us 3k to play with. That’s -1000 less then Gauntlets of Dexterity +2, but it’s close enough to not matter.

If we make it a +2 weapon, that frees up 10k more…enough to make your shortsword a +1 Defender, and buy Gaunts of Dex free and clear on top, if you are so inclined. Actually, I think we’ll go with that, since we’re already getting a +1 for 20 str. It also leaves enough for 2k for an Amulet of Nat AC +1.

5) We have freed up 2 feats: Expertise is gone, and Improved Two Weapon Fighting is gone. We’re going to replace them with Iron Will and Power Attack.

6) Give him some minor toy that casts Endure Elements on him 1/day so he can ignore the heat in heavy armor.

7) (Optional) Grant him an Achievement feat (note, he doesn’t even get a trait!). I suggest the History of Scars one for -2 to Bluff/Diplomacy, +2 Nat AC from being a punching bag.

These changes result in the following:

Str: 18 -> 20 Net Bonus: +1 th/dmg
Dex: 17 -> 16 Same bonus
Con: 14 -> 16 Bonus +1
Int: 13 -> 12 Bonus the same
Wis: 8 -> 10 Net +1
Cha: 10 -> 8 Net -1 (irrelevant)

Hit Points: 105 (net +10)

Armor Class: 29 (+11 Armor (full plate +2), +3 Dex, +1 Nat Ac, +1 Shield/TWD, +1 Defending, +1 Dodge, +1 Deflection) (Note: This constant AC is higher than he could have gotten with Expertise!) (net bonus, +4)

Attack: Longsword, d8 +11/17-20 (Improved Critical, Str+5, Spec+2, Sword+2, Train +2), +20 or +20/+15(+10 BAB, +5 Str, +1 WF, +2 Sword, +2 Training). Instead of TWF, he’ll just Power Attack with his Main sword for -3 Th, +6 dmg. His odds are better, and he can crit. (net +2/+2, but no frost dmg)

Against truly low AC foes, he can attack once with his Short Sword +1 Defender on a full attack action for d6 + 3, +16 to hit (the bonus is always used for AC). Against ranged foes, he can attack at +14 with his longbow for d8 + 6 dmg.


Fort: +13 (+7 Class, +3 resistance, +3 Con) Net bonus: +3

Reflex: +9 (+3 Class, +3 Dex, +3 Resistance) net Bonus: +2

Will: +10 (+3 Class, +4 Iron Will, +3 Resistance), +13 vs Fear (+3 Bravery). Note he’s got some real work ahead of him trying to keep this save viable at higher levels. Net Bonus: +7!!!!

In the real world, he’d swap TWDefense for Improved Shield Bash and use a light spiked Shield +3. AC would improve by +2, dmg would be the same, getting him to 31 AC, and leaving the door open to Shield Mastery in two levels, taking Shield Slam at 11 and Shield Mastery at 12.
Note that Mithral armor is effectively useless until Dex reqs exceed armor training. At +2 Dex/Armor Training and a 16 Dex, he’s maxing out his AC benefit with this, and has no movement penalties. He’s at -2 on his climb skill in full plate…hardly a massively valuable skill. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be needing Mithral until 15th level, and his Dex score would need to be 22 at that point to require it. Unless he gets an inherent bonus, he’s better off with Adamantine. At level 11 his Armor training hits +3, so he can make use of an 18 Dex and should get his Dex gauntlets to +4.

The whole argument with the Belt of physical stats ‘saving slots’ doesn’t work if it ‘costs gold’. Valeros isn’t using his gaunts slots, anyways…saving it is useless, and the 50% premium to ‘centralize’ things is not worth it when he’s trying to get gold out of everything. It hits hardest when doing Nat AC vs Con, as those use the same default slot otherwise…he has no CHOICE but to combine things.

The History of Scars Achievement feat would be great for Valeros…he’s already got a big honker of one, and his write-up precludes being Charismatic anyways. His traits are optional, but I’d suggest Big Game Hunter, given he’s got survival and is in the jungle, and is fighting so many big things. Every little bit helps. (Hmm, where’d it go? +2 dmg against foes bigger then you…). As an option, Courageous fits Valeros’ profile, and improves his saves vs fear by another +2, and his great-grandfather’s Heirloom sword would be another possibility.

His next purchase should definitely be Boots of Speed. The cumulative bonuses are invaluable, and the ten rounds should get him through most fights in a given day. +1 TH/AC/+30 Move are incredibly valuable to a warrior. It also makes him immune to Slow spells.

Non-Pathfinder options: ==============

Lose Improved Critical for Melee Weapon Mastery (+2/+2). Pick up Imp. Critical when you can get the critical feats. Note that between critical mastery and critical feats + Shields, he doesn’t have enough feats to pursue Greater Weapon Spec.

Strongarm bracers mean he could use a Heavy/Oversized Longsword (2-12 dmg) at no penalty.

The Wizard Ezren


I know why they made a generalist wizard instead of a specialist, but I kind of rolled my eyes.

Hand of the mage, usable 10 t/day so he can miss somebody with an action at +6 to hit. The average AC of a CR 10 encounter is 20, right? missing 2/3 of the time?

Arcane Strike feat, so he can spend a swift action not doing 5 pts of dmg to the people he is missing with his attack. WTH.

Metamagic mastery, so he can 1/day cause an extra 17 pts of dmg with a fireball or Cone of cold.

His theme is direct damage…except he’s not an invoker, and a dmg boost 1/day is not justification for not having viable spells with you.
Furthermore, he has no spellbook with optional spells. No true strike. No teleport or overland flight. No Haste or slow. No evard’s tentacles or dimension door. No summoning spells at all for pre-fight help/summoning. He’s just a blaster with routine spells that he’s going to burn through extremely quickly, and unless he’s fighting multiple opponents, to little effect. And his most effective damage spell is Scorching Ray, which he has a Dex penalty to hit with. While I’m wholly of the agreement that save or dies are often basically either great or garbage, the lack of control spells is really disturbing, and the utility spells moreso.

The mage started with a 16 Int, I’m not sure why he needs a 15 Wis when 14 would give him everything he needs (feat req I’m missing?). Taking it to 14 should let him pop either his Con bonus or Dex bonus by +1. Likewise, there’s no reason for two 9’s and an 11…these should be reduced to 8 and 8 and 10, if you’re going to build this way. There’s no reason to waste odd build points on unneeded stats.

I understand why the iconic is a generalist mage, but the class abilities are hugely underwhelming and cater to a playstyle the invoker does better, which is metamagic. His ‘free’ metamagic is basically +6 levels of free metacasting at level 20…which is equal to the spell levels a specialist gets by level 3. Kindly note that a specialist can also ‘spend’ two slots on a barred school, thereby giving him the spell capacity of a generalist, if he so desires, and all the access to the schools.
Eyeballing the Cleric and the theif, I can’t see anything glaringly out of place. The cleric is built around Channelling, and has a will save to defy belief (I guess someone has to make that paranoia save). The Rogue I don't have enough talents memorized, so I'll have to wait for someone else to critique.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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With the new Intensify Metamagic feat from the APG, direct dmg builds just took a nice bounce. I’ll be trying to work a build out based around dmg infliction from a caster.

As ever, Direct Damage builds rely on several factors.

1) Doing enough damage. Generally, a given spell has to do 2d6 x level to be a viable attack spell, and 3- 4 d6/level if you want a kill. This is because a) monster HD is usually d8, d10, or d12, not d6 and b) Monsters have Con bonuses, and every 3 pts of Con bonus means you need another die/level.
2) You have to punch SR 90% of the time. You do this with High caster level, Spell Penetration feats, caster level boosters, and the Assay Resistance spell.
3) You want to avoid saves if at all possible. This is because boosting save DC’s has costs that take away from boosting damage OR boosting spell penetration. Spells should be a secondary effect.
4) Ranged touches are possible, but low BAB and increasing defenses against them means you best have a Quickened True Strike available to overcome them at higher levels.
5) Elemental diversity. You must either be capable of dealing the ‘right’ sort of elemental dmg (to overcome resistance/immunity, or take advantage of weird vulnerabilities (lighting vs iron golems?)), the ‘best’ sort of damage (fire vs cold, cold vs fire, etc), or non-resistable dmg (typically, force, sometimes sonic). Furthermore, you should be able to do this on the fly.
6) Range. Burning Hands might do MM dmg, but the range means you basically have to be in Melee to use it…ugh!

Benefits? Cast and die. If you are able to keep elevating damage, you don’t need a lot of save or suck spells in memory. Even if you don’t kill something, you catastrophically weaken it to the point that other members in the party might be able to finish it off…or a Quickened spell of your own. ‘Controller’ types might crow about instant kills possible…but if the enemy makes the save or is immune, what have they accomplished? NOTHING. What have you done? Inflicted only 200 pts dmg to the enemy instead of killing it, so the fighter can take it out on his turn? Sounds like a plan.

Other benefits? You can still do all that save and die and battlefield control stuff…but it’s no longer a necessity. You can open up a fight just like a charging warrior or full attacking archer.

Tools for a DD build

1) Metamagic feats. Yep, you need ‘em.
2) Metamagic rods. For stacking love.
3) Good LOW LEVEL dmg spells. Why? Because stacking metas is more efficient then higher level spells.
4) Caster level increases, both for SR and more dice.
5) Fixed dmg and dice bonuses, if possible. These are multiplied with the spell. Warmage Edge is one example. Banespell is another. SA dmg is a third.
6) PrC’s with weird abilities that don’t come on feats, and don’t hurt the build.
7) Anything that provides metamagic efficiency. Rods are one. Artificers’ imbue ability is another. Feats are a third.

Why would you want a low level spell instead of, say, Disintegrate, or level 4 Orb spells? Well, because if you stack enough Metas on a Scorching Ray, you can easily out dmg a basic Disintegrate with 4 levels of spell play. Too, you have Magic Missile at level 1, and Orbs don’t start until 7th. As long as the spell you pick has a higher base dmg then the spell you want by the time you can cast it, you’re ahead of the game.

Key feats are anything that provides +50% or more dmg to the spell for a net +1 or +0, or 100% dmg for +2 or +3.

Those feats are: Empower (+2/+50%), Energize (+1/+50% vs undead, Good), Maximize (+3/+65%), Twin (+4/+100%), Admixture (+4/+100%), Split Ray (+2/+100% to single Rays), Quicken (/+4generally +50% to dmg/rd), and perhaps Chain (+3/turns a Ray into a TARGETED AoE).

Sudden Feats: At 1/day use each, these are meh for a blaster build. Avoid them. Use Metamagic Rods if you must.

Other Feats:
Arcane Thesis: All direct dmg builds are built around a single spell for metamagic efficiency. This feat makes each metamagic effect cost -1, to a minimum of +0, for the chosen spell, AND gives you +2 to caster level. You can only have one, so this spell is basically only useful for attack spells.

Practical Metamagic: The cost of the Metamagic feat chosen is reduced by 1, to a minimum of 1. In conjunction with Arcane Thesis, you now have Metamagic +2 that can be reduced to 0.

Metamagic Spell: The spell’s total Metamagic cost is reduced by 1, to a minimum of +1. In combo with Arcane Thesis, a +3 feat can now be reduced to 0, or a +4 feat to +1.

Intensify Spell: The +5 dice to the damage cap does mean you have to be higher level to actually make use of the spell (generally, 10+ caster level). However, with Arcane Thesis, it’s a +0 spell…and for Magic Missile, +5 missiles is effectively double dmg! (going from 15d6 to 20d6 with Orbs is only +33%...)

Blistering Spell/Flash Frost: This feat gives +2 Fire/Cold dmg /level of spell. Dm’s call on whether this applies to low level spells in high level slots…probably won’t allow it, MAYBE if you pick up Raised Spell. +0 with Thesis.

Piercing Cold/Fire: This does fire/cold dmg to those normally immune to stuff. The reason to NOT take this is that you generally have more effect if you just are able to switch the dmg of the element…or use force dmg. There’s a divine version of this feat which instead does divine dmg ½ (Consecracted Spell) to everything, but the spell also becomes Good.

Energize: This is an exalted spell, and only usable by good casters. Gives +50% against undead, and reduces dmg against all others. At +1, it becomes free with a Thesis…add it when you can use it.

Purify Spell: This exalted Feat is +1, and increases the die type (d6->d8) versus Evil sub-type creatures, doing no dmg to good and ½ to neutrals. While the average dmg is +1/die and so nothing impressive, in conjuction with Maximize, this feat is exceptionally nice…if you are facing Evil Outsiders. Add it when you need it. It’s also nice in that you won’t have to worry about splash dmg to Good party members.

Fell Drain: +2/ Creature taking dmg gains 1 negative level. Nice in combination with Twin/split rays, etc, otherwise more of a fixed dmg effect.

Intensify (+1): raises the max dmg dice of a spell by 5. Works great for lower level spells with low caps, less effective on higher level spells as they might exceed caster level.

Banemagic: While only statted out in Lords of Madness for Aberrations, this feat does +2d6 dmg to the Baned targets. DM’s call if dmg is per target or by spell for balance. Likely will have to be taken for each type desired independently. +0 with Thesis.


Magic Missile: Magic Missile remains the core spell of a blaster build. While fairly useless at low levels because of the base dmg, as caster level increases, dmg can ramp up VERY quickly with metamagic effects. It’s a force spell; it never misses; has decent range; few enemies can defend against it; can hit multiple targets or focus on one. Main weakness is SR, also low dmg cap of 5d4+5.

Scorching Ray (2nd): The second most popular spell. Has decent dmg at low levels; excellent range; does FIRE dmg; and can hit multiple targets or just one; no saves; decent dmg cap at 12d6. Weaknesses: Does elemental dmg; Requires a Touch Attack; SR defends; the only Ray spell with multiple rays, so Split Ray is actually useless; Intensify technically doesn’t work because Split Ray doesn’t have an even die/level modifier.

Elemental Orbs (4th): This set of spells is popular because of their no-SR rule, and because most DM’s allow you to pick the element on the fly, instead of being forced to memorize each Orb individually. The high dmg cap is nice for late game, too.
The spells have good range; No saves vs the dmg; No SR or even anti-magic; excellent dmg cap (15d6). Weakness: DM call on elemental flexibility means Elemental is potentially good OR bad; Single target; mid to late game; Ranged touch attack; level 4 spell limits metamagic upside; Metamagic Rods more expensive.

Because Force Orbs do d4 dmg instead of d6, DM’s are likely to rule that they aren’t part of the Elemental Orb line.

Wings of Flurry: This is a nominated spell because of the unlimited dmg cap for force dmg. However, it’s basically a trap spell. This is an AoE spell that emanates from the caster…basically the caster is at the center of a 30’ burst. Thus, the range is horrible, it cannot be targeted, and you have to have some effect to exclude allies from the AoE. It makes a great one-off spell with a rod of Maximize in hand, but as a repeat blaster spell doesn’t cut the mustard.

Disintegrate: This is the last of the normal blaster spells, picked primarily because of the 2d6/level dmg. It has excellent dmg; massive cap (40d6); utility usage (good bye wall); awesome dmg type (TURN TO DUST); and decent range. Weaknesses? Well, it’s 6th level…many games are almost over at the time you get it, and you will only get 3 levels of metamagic to play with. You do, however, have time to prepare, so it can be murderously effective from the get go. It’s also ranged touch, and subject to SR. The cost of metamagic rods to stack with it is also prohibitive (Greater Rods req).

Other Spells

Assay Resistance; level 4 spell, cast on an enemy, +10 to beat SR. Indispensable.

Acid Sheathe: level 2 spell, surrounds you in a field of acid. If you cast an acid spell, you get +1 dmg/die. As an elemental spell, it can be adjusted to any elemental type for some nice bonus dmg!

True Strike: Your BAB sucks, and sometimes you MUST hit. True Strike and its quickened cousin are very important.


Metamagic Rods: The low level spells use low level Rods even if meta’d up to level 9. Suggested are Maximize and Quicken.

Orange Ioun stone: For +1 caster level, can’t go wrong.

The Force Missile Mage. Magic Missile specific. This 5 level PrC gives you several nice benefits: Free still spell (Cast MM while bound, grappled); Elemental dmg for MM’s; 2 extra MM’s (=+40% base dmg…20% with Intensify); a free use of Shield; immunity to MM’s, and +2 spell penetration to MM’s. You can enter at level 5, cost is a stupid feat (combat casting…most DM’s will likely allow Arcane Thesis), and you lose your first level of spellcasting.

Spellwarp Sniper: This 5 level PrC gives you a major bonus in that any ranged attack spell can be reduced to a Ray…and that Ray can then be Split! The entry reqs are annoying (SA dmg), but the utility of having Split Ray available is impressive. One level of this with a MM build is a guaranteed +100% dmg.


Let’s start with Disintegrate, as it is the easiest.

You get Disintegrate at level 11. With an Arcane Thesis and Metamagic Spell, you can instantly add Split Ray to the Disintegrate for FREE. So, 22d6 dmg becomes 44d6 dmg. Ouch.

Add Practical Metamagic to Empower, and you get that for FREE. Five feats, 66d6 dmg. Not bad for suddenly hitting level 11. If this is ALL you do, at level 20 you have a 120d6 attack spell for ~420 dmg, still using a level 6 slot.

Your next spell will be Twin Spell. If you make it Practical, it’s an 8th level spell (+2 adjustment). You’re level 15, so 30d6 x6 = 180d6 dmg…or about 630 dmg. At level 20, 240d6 dmg for 840 dmgish.

By making Split Ray Practical, we can drop this murderous salvo to a 7th level spell. This gives us room to Maximize (I’d just use a Rod), for 960 + 80d6 dmg as a 9th level spell cast at CL 20. We still have to hit stuff, they get a save, and SR…but if it works, goodbye Great Wyrm.

With Intensify, we raise maximum dice 5. With Arcane Thesis and an Ioun stone, we can hit CL 23. Total costs, ten feats. Dmg at CL 23? 46d6 x 6, or 276d6 dmg….

Commentary: Not bad dmg…Split Ray is the real shining force here, as it + Twin are the big dmg dealers. However, you don’t even get your first Disintegrate until level 11, and we’re talking 10 feats to make this build…and the targets still gets saves, SR, and touch AC, against all 4 rays seperately. Ugh.

Elemental Orbs: 4th level, dmg cap 15d6 or 15d4, depending on what you want to use.
No free Split Ray without Spellwarp Sniper.

So, Empower for free, after Arcane Thesis and Metamagic Spell. At 8th is a 12d6 attack.
We can Sheathe ahead of time, if we know the element, for +1/die, or 12d6+12.

Intensify, +5d6 (or, one Ray). Dmg goes from 12d6+12 at level 8 to 30d6+30 at CL 20, still a 4th level slot.

Twin, Practical is x2. 6th level slot, CL 12 = 36d6+36, CL 20 = 60d6+60
Admixture already has all elemental types to work with, so x2, +2 slots if Practical. 120d6 + 120.

No save, no SR, Touch Attack, Elemental dmg of choice. Maximize makes this 540 dmg + 40d6, or ~640 dmg.

Also 10 feats. First use of spell at level 7-8.

IF we can work Spellwarp Sniper into the build? It would take 2 more feats, but it’s ‘free’ if we can do it…and means dmg would DOUBLE to ~1280 dmg.. No save, no SR…Touch Attack.

Death by True Strike, as it were. Do we need it? Not much out there can take 900 pts of the right Elemental dmg…but even if we head into Epic Levels, that’s just nuts.

Scorching Ray

Main Problem…can’t stretch Dmg cap, which stops at 12d6. But! Starts being usable at 6th (Thesis)

Arcane Thesis + Empower + Metamagic spell = free. Level 6 = 12d6dmg (+2 CL Thesis). Fire Sheathe for 12d6+12, maxing out at 18d6+18 at CL 11.

Practical Twin Spell 4th level spell, 24d6+24, maxing out at 36d6+36 at CL 11.

Practical Admixture (req. Elemen Sub); 6th level Spell, 72d6+72.

Split Ray at +1 = 7th level spell, 4 rays for 24d6+24 each (96d6+96)

W 2 levels of Spellwarp Sniper, we can take all 4 rays down to 1 ray, then Split it. 144d6+144 dmg, or about 700. This can then be Maximized to 720 +48d6 dmg…

If DM allows Intensify to add another Ray, increase dmg 33% by adding another Ray.

Total cost: 10 feats.

Still Uses Lesser Rods of Metamagic, which is nice.

Magic Missile

Like Scorching Ray, starts to shine at level 6 with Arcane Thesis. Practically requires Force Missile Mage. Intensify means dmg keeps scaling up to level 20.

Level 6 – Force Missile Mage, Arcane Thesis, Metamagic Spell, Empower. 7.5d4+7, first level spell (5 missiles). Practical Metamagic/Twin Spell, 15d4+15 dmg (~52 pts), 3rd level spell.

Level 8 – Elemental MM’s mean Sheathing available. 9d4+18 (41 dmg) level 1’s, 18d4+36 level 3’s. (6 missiles)

Level 10 = +2 Missiles. CL+1. Intensify = 8 Missiles. Practical Admixture = 5th level slots.
1 = 12d4+24 (54 dmg) 3= 24d4+48 5=48d4+96 (216 dmg)

Level 12- If we can assume 1 level of Spellwarp Sniper, Practical Split Ray = Free. 9 missiles.
Level 1 – 27d4+54 (~121) Level 3= 54d4+108 (~243) Level 5 = 108d4+216. (~485)

Note: We aren’t using any spell slots over 5th level….

Caster Level 15. 11 missiles.(cl+2)

1- 33d4+66 (~150) 2- 66d4+132 5- 132d4+264 (~600)

Caster Level 20 12 missiles
1- 36d4+72 (162)
3rd – 72d4+144
5th – 144d4+288 (~648 dmg)

Fell Drain is also +1 level, and the targets lose 4 levels, as an alternative. (Admixture doesn't create a new Ray).
Repeat Spell could also mean the same thing goes off next round, but you're probably just going to Quicken and kill something.

REq: 9 feats. Uses no level 6+ slots unless Quicken is taken. Still viable for more MM feats. Argent Savant level 5 ability would increase dmg by +1/die.

So, this build matures very quickly, gets excellent dmg, and scales wonderfully, while leaving higher level slots open. It hits incorporeals, adjusts elemental dmg, requires no TH roll, and generally only worries about Spell resistance…using one of the level 4 slots left wide open. Pretty much the only thing it’s useless against is Golems, and that’s why you have all those 4th level slots still open.

Gets spell slots later then some builds, but you're killing things with LEVEL 5 SLOTS. CL is the important thing...that, and getting all the feats you can to pull this off.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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Shadows of a Savage Tide

Henri eyed the rest of the group with his usual wariness…a useful survivor trait picked up on the roads of his youth. Despite the mutual battles shared, he was still wary of this motley group of people he’d found himself thrown into, not the least of which was getting involved in noble politics.

And it was noble politics, even if they didn’t realize it. The things he’d found out about their patron’s brother with some careful digging, and then the follow up information on the people said murdering knave hung out with…the others were in over their heads, and simply didn’t know it. Maybe if they were lucky, the ones they were messing with would also look over their heads…he doubted it, but you never knew.

Rose, of course, didn’t have a clue. Forged were generally pretty blind in social situations, and the mere idea of a druid Forged still goggled his imagination. The fact that her armor plates were all made of dark green ironwood with vestigial spikes on them only made the image the more ludicrous…as if the squirrel that enjoyed sitting atop her carved head like some strange plumed ornament to the living helm that was her somehow sadly carved face didn’t do the same.

That said, he’d seen how hard those fists of hers could hit, and if the vines that seemed to be growing in and around her were a bit disconcerting…well, Forged were disconcerting enough.

Eshe would probably understand better what they were dealing with. The Karrnathi wizardess was a consummate professional, who knew how to fight better then most wizards and wasn’t afraid to show it. She was one of the students of the new Silver Waters philosophy coming out of the Redhand Principality to the north…and wore a black wolf badge on silver to proudly proclaim her allegiance to the equally weird and new kingdom arising around the improbably named Fort Lewt, and the grim reputation of the Karrn they called General Ruin. Now that was a proper moniker for a Karrn, he reflected, looking away from the slender, toned spellcaster before she could catch his eyes. The Wolves had a reputation for professionalism and proficiency, and the trading house they had established here in the city was making a lot of nobles and natives nervous. The Prince of Redhand was a resurrected Karrn archmage or something, by all accounts, a nearly legendary hero who had ‘retired’ into the position of leading an entire city back to power after the ravages of the Age of Worms. And, said man was a member of the very party of likewise legendary people who had stopped the Faceless god of worms from claiming a divine mantle during that horrible time.

Her bodyguard, Threk, was a true Wolf…a heavily armored, towering mountain of muscle, tusks, and scars, shoulders so broad as to be almost ape-like in build. Half-orcs were not a common sight in Karrnath, but he’d heard that a fairly sizable contingent had established themselves among the feared elite heavy scouts of the Wolves of Ruin, and this young one was no different from the rest. Few people would see the intelligence lurking in the reddish eyes, seeing instead the jutting tusks and bristling body hair, looking past the immaculately kept armor and weapons that signified this wasn’t merely one big, ugly pile of trouble, but a smart and disciplined world of hurt. He didn’t slouch, he didn’t swear, he didn’t drool, and he had excellent table manners, too. The fact he had rather strong body odor was helped by continual baths and, surprisingly, to the presence of Rose, who seemed to emanate a freshness of the air that simultaneously dealt with the humid stink, the ever-present rot of fish, the smell of too many people in small places, and the sweat of a big armored half-orc with airy lightness.

Forged Druid. Right.

His own job, of course, was to be the sly one. He loathed having to do it, of course, vastly preferring to avoid a fight or have one straight up rather then being a skulking whisper-monger…but it had become plainly apparent to him that he was the only one who could do the job, and so it had fallen to him. His life of travel had taught him how to relate to people, to loosen tongues and find places and things…and, not coincidentally, to get lost among such stuff and be unobtrusive about it all.

But the rogues of Sasseroon certainly hadn’t been expecting anyone like them to come crashing into their lives. The guild of the Water Dragons was no more…Threk had unceremoniously dumped the severed head of the former guild leader, no less then the eldest daughter of the ‘noble family’ in charge of the waterfront area, onto the table at the great hall where said nobles met, along with a slew of retrieved documentation entailing exactly what said woman had been up to. Of course, they hadn’t known she was the eldest daughter at the time her head had been lopped off, but those were the breaks…

Happily, the very fact that he was a plain, leathers-clad nobody in a party with two Wolves and a forged Druid meant nobody paid much attention to him. He hid his accent well and had been in the city longer then the others…he knew it better then many people who had lived there all their lives.

Now, their lovely patron, the noblewoman who oversaw one of the busier districts of this seaport, had another job for them. She wanted them to find her brother, and bring him back to account for his actions. Henri winced…he had no evidence but drunken words and whispers, so nothing to bring up the fact that not only had the knave robbed his own sister and family, he’d likely murdered his own parents to gain the inheritance. The fact his younger sister had gained it all had obviously derailed his plans…Henri found it startling the young Lady was still alive, in all honesty.

But now, he looked out over the water past the others…the sheltered harbor that was the prize of the Principalities, that was beckoning them to a cove nearby, a place pried out of his informants via a slip of the tongue and the drink to grease it through. They’d be taking ship there…going overland through the surrounding sea swamp and jungle was not only time-consuming, it was far more dangerous. He’d lined up a ride, and the sea was beckoning him, a break in the long roads that had brought him here. Rose didn’t seem too enthusiastic about it all, plants and salt water not mixing, but the Wolves had taken the news with the stoicness of Marines and without batting an eye.

Sure, they were a reliable bunch…but could he trust them? Did he want to? His roads were past, his tracks hidden, his name buried…he had no desire to resurrect them now.

But gold, a new road, adventure, new sights to see…these were luring him on with a force so strong it was almost physical. To be on the road and on the move again…he couldn’t deny the excitement he felt even as the fear returned, too.

Eshe smoothed her close-cropped black hair back as she surveyed the dead creatures, thoughtfully impaled on the arrows of Threk and Henri. Even as she examined the twisted, warped forms of the monkeys, trying to ignore the windy, thin cries rising up out of Rose’s chest as the Forged beheld the ravaged forms of the animals, she could see they were smoking, holes starting to appear in them as if they were collapsing or dissolving from within.

Clinical detachment had been drummed into her some time ago. As a Wolf spellcaster, her duties encompassed the whole of troop support…artillery, enhancement, scouting, movement, and especially recovery. She wasn’t yet powerful enough to fill all those capacities, but that was why she had been dispatched to this city in the midst of nowhere. The Wolves were mercenaries now, for better or worse, and she had been selected as a representative for the ‘new’ model of Wolves, those not dominated by the bitterness and hate of lingering resentments from the Last War.

Which is not to say she didn’t have her own agenda. Bettering herself from the near-total poverty of her family, and removing herself from being married off to burden some other family or produce more sons of Karrnath to die in newer and more glorious battles were merely minor accomplishments at this point.

Her background of living in a port city like Korrth had served her well, even as it hampered her in the more rural duties of wilderness survival that characterized the elite of the Wolves. Stealth training was not her strongpoint, however…she had come to the Wolves, and especially the Lady Hazé, to learn magic, and this she was doing.

The reputation of the Wolves was cemented by what the locals called the Night of Worms, when a great brood-fiend had come marching out of the jungle to lay the city to waste. One of the few wizards of the city had gotten the bright idea to call up the Wolves, the very people rumored to be dealing with these creatures.

Only a few minutes after the writhing, Worm-imbued army had come marching into the southern quarter of the city and down towards the docks, covering everything with a vile, choking green mist, the Stormwolf had hove into the sky over the town and a squad of Wolves led by none other then the General himself had rappelled down into the heart of the mist.

Only a few minutes later, the mist had literally exploded into racing sheets of white flame, devoured by the appetite of the black blade Thorn. Reeling Worm-born were getting hacked down and blasted by sheets of silver magic and silver swords unlike anything the locals had ever seen.

They’d gawked at the airship. They’d gawked at the grim men hacking their way through the terrible tide of undead that had most of the town troops mewling in terror to merely consider them. They’d gawked at the big white circle blasted into the stones of the city where nothing remained of the horrendously powerful, vile creature that had led them.

General Ruin had somewhat later politely asked if he might not be able to open a trading house in the city, and the leaders of the city had literally fallen over themselves to grant approval.

Eshe had seen it all, undergoing basic naval and marine training aboard the Stormwolf. That had been the first time it really struck home that the General wasn’t just serving a great Karrnathi leader, but that she was serving under a living legend.

She had seen it all, and she wanted to be able to BE like that. Albeit without the General’s terrifying scars, those she could do without.

Getting posted here had been a surprise, of course…there were no end of duties for warriors as elite as those being turned out at Fort Lewt and Fort Hole. Among the Wolves, and especially those of Cyran blood, work in the Mournland was most prized, for both danger and the rewards in both gold and reclamation of heritage. The slaying of Valenar was never far from the minds of those who’d survived the Plains of Blood, and elves certainly were less then welcome at the Fort unless of proven Cyran or Karrnathi origin. Certainly those dispatched into the Mournland quickly got better at what they had to do, or they quickly got dead.

These animals, they looked to be common monkeys, had been warped and twisted by powerful magic…extremely powerful magic, judging by the hateful, violent cacophony of cries in the jungle beyond, where the beasts sounded like they were tearing one another apart. The massively overgrown jaws seemed the only common point…jutting bones, extra heads, spiky growths, tentacles, extra eyes and limbs, all wrapped up in a hateful jumble of frenzied hunger.

As she watched, the four monkeys crumbled into stinking goo, drying out with near magical speed from a hissing pool of burbling acidic goop, to a mere steaming remnant and crumbled, warped skeletons.

Not the kind of thing to be lightly tossed off.

She pulled a flat glass crystal from her bandolier, rapidly wove the entire sight from beginning to end as a small illusion, and infused it into the glass. Her superiors would want to see this.

Henri was at the top of the cliff, looking over into the hidden cove beyond on his belly. Slowly, he got to his feet…a clear sign of either total idiocy, or lack of need for stealth. Given the wary, hunted look he always seemed to be sporting, she doubted it was the former. Seeing how far a former Aundairean – yes, she’d been able to pick out the shadows of his accent, and more to the point, his too-fancy Aundair Swordhawk fencing style – had come to get away from whatever was haunting him, she had little reason to either trust or distrust him, but he’d proven capable at his job, which had included the type of intelligence gathering that was the forte of spies, informers and the like, she had to wonder who he had crossed to run this far.

Her superiors would find out. They tended to be interested in the background of adjutant operatives.

Rose was another local, such as they were, wandering out of the jungle with little memory of what had become of her. Deep mahogany-green, and carved with more artistry then it seemed most warforged were, and definitely on the slender side, she had displayed a remarkable green thumb (hah!) and been attending to the gardens in one of the outer city’s parks until lured away by Master Cupral, the polished Forged who directed the Wolves’ business interests in the city. General Ruin had a startlingly open mind about the Forged and their place in the world, and encouraged their education and recruitment wherever possible. Rose had been given a warm welcome and answers for what became a torrent of questions, as Eshe recalled. Her whisperwind voice was gentle and soothing…even if her wooden fists, suddenly sprouting knuckle-long thorns as hard as steel, were anything but soothing to those who crossed her, and she was developing into quite the pugilist. Still, the Forged’s empathy with living things seemed to be her strongest trait, and Eshe knew enough of the unmoving face and posture of the Forged to know that Rose was seriously upset at anything that could do this to poor animals.

Threk moved up to stand beside Henri, towering nearly a head over the slender human. Eshe knew he’d be taking in the tactical situation, formulating a plan of approach and assault based on the new data he’d be seeing…something few would expect of a member of his breed. Ostensibly, his job was to protect her. In reality, his job was to protect everyone the best he knew how, and keeping her alive as her gifts emerged would only help that.

She noted how his large hand rested upon the handle of his axe, and did not come off of it. That was not a good sign. She gave Rose a solid whack on the shoulder – the distracted Forged wouldn’t feel anything less forceful – and hurried to move up beside him.

The smoke fires they’d seen and the animal carnage was clearly indicative of what had probably happened to the camp down below. Eshe swore, wondering exactly how much of their mission had changed, and if the humans who’d been down there had been changed as these poor beasts had. She hoped not, but pessimism had its day.

Whether the conniving bastard they were being sent to fetch was also here was another matter entirely. If he’d been transformed and was dead, they’d have to hope to find some identifying marks among the remains.

“Let’s go. Henri, please test the way,” the startlingly smooth, deep bass of Threk’s voice broke into her survey of the hazy situation. Their scout paced off down the path quickly, eyes darting and wary for movement.

Threk put up his axe and calmly motioned for the others to do likewise, stepping carefully backwards to give the beleaguered pirate captain some room. By the way she’d been tossing about familiar insults and witticisms in her northern Lazaar cant, these things dissolving and crumbling as they tried to get to her and eat her had been her former crew and shipmates. Given the too-bright, fevered stare of her eyes, and the real skill with which she’d been plying the rapier she was holding, he was inclined to not kill her…her precious crew of pirates had gotten a horrible final reward, and as far as he knew, these ‘Scarlet Dragons’ had never dared attack a ship flying a Wolf flag. There’d only been a couple pirates who’d dared that end, and their explosive endings had rather proven the point that the General didn’t support the idea of piracy for profit, especially as applied to his own ships.

“Henri,” he rumbled out, as usual making the slender Aundair jump with the timbre of his voice. “Have a kind word with the beautiful woman with the sword, and see if she might not know the location of our primary objective.”

The human blinked, translated that, and quickly put away his own rapier to step forwards, hands wide reassuringly, and start some dialogue. He wasn’t a wordsmith, but he was the best they had in this situation.

Eshe was doing a quick scan of the area for anything magical…and hopefully not anything as bad as the crumbling black shells carefully tucked into a lead carry-box in his own pack. Her eyes had streamed black tears just looking at the remnants of the magic on the things, and it had come quickly apparent that whatever magic had been associated with them, it had been the center of the transformative magic which had doomed this pirate cove.

The woman’s story confirmed it, Threk listening carefully, just like Eshe was, to the story of the unleashed magic. Their quarry had obviously escaped their clutches, just as he’d managed to slip away back at the port.

His lazy eyes opened slightly as the pirate revealed that she’d sent her second in command back after their employer, in the mistaken belief that the noble house had planned this escapade from the beginning, and holding the blood responsible for the downfall of all concerned. An honest error, if a stupid one…his trainers would have chastised her immediately for such linear logic. The Lady’s brother had proven himself a devious thinker, and the Lady herself far too inexperienced for such a clever ploy. Efficient misdirection.

Whatever, they had best pursue a tactical withdrawal and return home quickly. Given the reluctance of their initial transportation to stick around, and the nervousness they’d displayed at the cacophony arising from the jungle about, he had little doubt that their ride had withdrawn and left them to fend for themselves in getting home.

Happily, one of the ships of the pirates seemed to have escaped the general chaos and fire that had seized the rest of the camp, and was still floating out in the harbor. He smiled inwardly at the chance to claim such a prize…a ship was fine booty in and of itself, along with the rest of the loot they had been able to claim as they made their way through this cave complex.

He was a bit startled when Rose spoke up and in her gentle windsong voice advised the pirate Captain that she was infected with some sort of fever, possibly arising out of the very thing that had transformed her crewmen. He was even more surprised when the wooden Forged presented a pouch of some herbal tea that could be mixed up and drank to possibly help fight it off.

Born with a healer’s heart, he noted, noticing also that her spiked fists were gore covered with the remnants of these strange mutates and she took no notice of it. Indeed, it had seemed that, if anything, she fought these transformed, unlucky souls all the more harder simply to lay them to rest.

He remembered a question once asked of General Ruin by a typically clueless newcomer, as they watched him take apart their instructors in anything but mock combat; smoothly, effortlessly, so far beyond the skill of anything Threk had ever seen that his mouth still wanted to gape open remembering it. The human had asked a question about protecting the healers, inferring that they were soft, unable to care for themselves.

Gods, those eyes. Calm, still, death. The idiot had frozen up as if he’d had a gauntleted fist about his throat.

“A Healer,” the General had said, in that whisper-grind of his mangled voice, “knows best how to save you, and knows best how to make you die. What you want to have happen is to never have one of those gentle souls start practicing the taking of life, for they will show you how you failed…and they will never be there to save you again.”

He eyed those spiked knuckles again, smiled to himself, and scratched the healing scar on his side where one of the feral things had managed a lucky hacking strike with a cutlass. Hands of a healer. Druidic, clerical, bardic…he didn’t much care by what tradition the healing magic came from, he was a soldier and he appreciated it all. He rather suspected Rose herself wasn’t entirely sure, which didn’t make it any the less effective.

Henri was turning away from the Captain, obviously done talking, and the woman seemed somewhat less uneasy and paranoid.

Eshe’s finger rapped gently twice against the back of his right arm. She was done. He moved his arm out and in…he’d gotten his tactical map of the area down, able to firmly visualize the complex for a full later report.

After all, nothing said the Wolves couldn’t use a secret port in the middle of nowhere with ready-made defensive works in place. Pirates didn’t get to have all the fun…

Rose knew little about sailing, but she was strong, far stronger then she looked, ironwood being a molded part of her body, and the fibers that gave her movement and life tougher and stronger then normal human muscle. Work was a good thing – it kept the Forged’s mind off the horrible things she had witnessed.

The flesh-and-blood members didn’t have her insight or empathy into the wild. She could feel every grain in the wooden hull of the ship they were sailing, she could picture with incredible clarity each and every tree these planks had been hewn from. Raising her head, she could inhale the wind the sails were catching, swirling it about the chamber within her head, feel the pollens and nectars of distant vegetation carried on the breezes.

The agony of the land about where the…thing…had exploded made her ironwood skin crawl. The land had been screaming for cleansing, for the grace and relief of burning, purifying fire to rid itself of this blot of infection. She’d felt only an echo of similar potency when she stood about the inner courtyard of the Wolf Trading Enclave, where the Broodfiend had died, and where it had been Fed to the Land by Thorn. Fell, terrible power, scoured clean and given freely back to the land itself.

Truly, the General of the Steel bore a most frightening, and most noble, weapon, to be capable of such a thing. More then anything else, it had inspired her to learn more of these Wolves, and if there was something more profound then merely selling their services for bits of worthless metal behind their activities.

Hard fingers caressed the wooden figurehead of the ship, carved and sanded to an exaggerated resemblance to a half-fish, half-human creature she believed to be called a mermaid, highly stylized with embellishments that didn’t seem quite realistic.

She had best learn more of the sea if she was to live upon an island, and go traveling upon ships over the water. Master Cupral had been endlessly patient with her questions, as had the other Forged she had met at the Wolf complex, which numbered almost all of those present within the city.

Henri was at the wheel of the ship. Rose wasn’t adept in all the forms of human expression, although she studied them intensely…a lot could be read in the voluntary and involuntary movements of a humanoid’s mobile face. He seemed to be radiating both fear and eagerness as he clung to the wheel. Such a strange combination. Threk was busying himself with the ropes, his natural might and obvious training helping him keep the ship on course. The wizardess, Eshe, was down below, taking inventory of the ship and what had come with it. The half-orc had informed her that possession of a ship was quite a prize…it required substantial gold outlay to construct one, and capturing one, even as small as this, intact, was quite a coup.

Rose ran hard fingers over patterns of grains that had seen the wearing of countless hands, and saw again the forest giants from which they had been carved, an echo of the life they had once had.

Magic tingled, ready to be called upon, swirled with possibilities. Some of that life could be brought forth, and in a fashion, perhaps those trees could live again…

Threk levered his axe out of the skull of the batrachian with a grunt, snarling as he saw the pirate who’d brought them here leap out the window. A fellow urukhar, but lost to the lure of gold and green…or perhaps not, given his loyalty to his captain. The Lady was breathing hard, Henri’s rapier in her hand, while the slender man kept one knife at the ready, the other laying at the base of the window with blood upon it from where it had been buried in the fleeing mate’s shoulder.

Eshe calmly drove her stiletto into the base of the skull of one of the slumbering creatures she’d brought down with her magic…it barely jerked with the clean strike, and without a change in expression, she proceeded to the next. Rose was covered in slime and gore and bits of froggish skin…she had charged into the knot of the things, scattering them right and left, and found herself grappling one of them.

Grappling a Forged with iron hard thorns sprouting all over her body was a messy business. Threk noted the carpet in the room was quite ruined.

“The rest of the manse still needs to be secured, Lady,” he stated in his slow, solemn manner, a mode of speaking that drew attention. As he said this, he moved quickly to secure the doorway through which they’d entered, shield up and axe ready. He pulled his head back in time to dodge the thrown spear, which whipped past him and thunked solidly into the headboard of what he assumed to be her bed. “Perhaps, Henri, you should release our allies and allow them to contribute to the defense once again?”

Hurt pride in the face of the other sellswords was enough for him to tell that they’d be motivated to do their absolute utmost not to let down the Lady again, especially given the performance of the relative newcomers to her service. Their disappointing defense would, of course, only serve to make his own team look that much more proficient, and he didn’t intend to do anything to disappoint that image.

He closed the door forcefully, planting his armored foot behind it, and something froggish slammed into the far side with an angry belch, loosening the hinges. Spears and fists beat impotently on the thick wood for a few blows as he shook his head in wonder at the density of their savage little brains, and then the door shuddered under a heavier impact of body weight.

The second impact he timed perfectly, hitting the door at the same moment and taking most of the force himself. As he outweighed the frog-men almost half again, the door merely shuddered a little and didn’t budge much. Behind him, the released guards were scrambling for their gear and weapons, while Rose hurriedly chanted spells to heal the worst of injuries, and Eshe moved up to flank the door, which shuddered again against his shoulder, and then a crude axebit popped through the wood next to his shoulder as the rage of the creatures got the better of them. A second strike punched through and bounced off his armor, which elicited a further flurry of angry axe strikes.

“Rockborn, if you could kindly open the door on a three count?” he asked, except it was not a question. The Dwarf eagerly hurried up to grab the knob as Threk held up three fingers, and counted down.

His spring backwards surprised everyone but Eshe…he shouldn’t have been able to jump so far wearing so much metal. The door swept open, and forced by the weight of those behind, the batrachians spilled into the room.

Literally, because Eshe’s foot caught the oversized feet of the lead one, and it went crashing to the ground almost at Threk’s feet. His axe came down once with a solid crunch and split its skull, and he heaved back up with practiced rhythm, lifting the corpse half off the ground before his axe came free, stepping to one side to smash the second one out of the way.

The three people with ready bows released point blank into the knot of swamp-dwellers, and Eshe tossed a flask of something around the corner. There was a woosh and explosion of snow and ice, and the overeager frogfolk were suddenly happy to be anywhere but here.

Threk drove the handle of his axe down on the skull of his hop-happy opponent, who learned to his dismay that the top of the kite shield had rather sharp edges for a reason. With a grunt of pure brutal power, Threk hurled the frogger away, ripping its inflatable throat out in a welter of gore in the process, waited for the second volley of shots to drop two more of the frogmen, and then was after them with one of the few holdovers from his barbaric youth…a wild and savage howling warcry, shaking the ceiling panels, that heralded that yes, a Wolf was coming, and coming for them!

Life is good.

Axe ready to cut, he pounded after them, Rose on his heels with her pieces of frog-hide still wetly hanging from her, as fearsome and bloody a backup as he could wish for. The others hurried to keep pace, even the Lady getting caught up in the excitement and hurrying along behind them.

"Feed the Land!" he howled, as he caught up to the slowest of them before they could hop down the staircase to the first floor in their haste, and his axe came down. Eyes blazing with the savage joy of his forebears, he didn't slow down, crashing through the railing to plummet into the middle of the knot of those gathering below, striking one with heavy boots and crushing it flat, taking hold of his axe, and letting his reason go for pure animal fury.

Yes, life was very good, indeed.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Even if you for some reason don't have a cleric who can cast True Resurrection or a Wizard who can't use Wish, there are several talismans of Zagyg in Dragotha's loot that can do the job. The spirit may have got his revenge on the Dragon, but remember, in life his overarching goal wasn't to kill the dragon, it was to stop the cult!

And the plans of Kyuss are still very much in motion! Any chance I could get a rough idea of what the authors of the Path of Worms would do to bring back dear old Bucknard? (He's Lord Kenzeltun of Karrnath to me, but eh!)

Given that he's shown with a sword, but is an acknowledged wizard, I expect some combo of Wizard, Bard or Fighter, Spellsword and Eldritch Knight, or something similar.

Any chance for stats for this presumably Epic hero? (At least, he'd better be Epic if he hoped to solo Dragathra). I don't see him upstaging the PC's at this point in the play, but he'd make a really good supporting character who would be happy to help out!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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if it doesn't work directly, cut and paste should. It's on the Eberron People and places board, an Eberronesque conversion of the Age of Worms for the last two sections of the series.

This was suggested by one of the commentors on the post at the WoTC boards. The stories are 60,000+ words long, so I won't post them in their entirety again here. Click on them if you like the developments of the Age of Worms and I hope you enjoy them!

Waiting eagerly for my next Dungeon!


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

I'd like to see whoever drank it reflected in the artwork for later modules.

And...whats the item creation stats for those elixirs? Nice permanent bonus to Nat Ac there.